What Is Thyroid Disease: Basic Facts And Treatment

What is thyroid disease? It can produce a host of symptoms. Becoming aware of the following symptoms can alert sufferers to get the proper treatment.

A butterfly-shaped gland known as the thyroid gland and found in the front of the neck produces chemicals known as hormones. These hormones basically regulate how our bodies operate in terms of utilization of food and energy.

A normal thyroid gland produces a chemical called thyroxine. Based on the amount it produces, this will affect how the body functions, i.e. how it metabolizes the food we eat, and in turn how the body grows, and also reproduces.

An underactive thyroid, also known a hypothyroidism is treated with small amounts of thyroid hormone supplementation, which is called thyroxine. This is usually taken once a day, preferably in the morning. It is given is small doses at first, and with regular testing, increased until the T4 and TSH levels are normal. The most common medications are Synthroid and Levothroid.

The pituitary gland at the base of the brain is what stimulates the thyroid gland by producing small quantities of TSH. This in turns causes the thyroid to produce the hormone T4. When the pituitary senses less T4 in the blood, it will then begin to produce more of the TSH. Consequently low levels of T4 and high levels of TSH will be an indication that the patient is suffering from hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid. An elevated thyroid hormone level will indicate a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which is basically an over active thyroid.

An overactive thyroid can be treated by either through surgery, i.e. removal of part of the thyroid, or by inserting radioactive iodine, which is used to not only test but also treat thyroid function.

Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may go undetected for years. Yet if one is made aware of the symptoms, they will begin to see a pattern from this condition.

In hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid basically the symptoms are weight loss, a rapid heart beat, bulging eyes, tremors in the hand, excessive sweating, excessive nervousness. In the front of the neck area, there may be swelling, or what is known as a "goiter."

In hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, first indications may be premature graying, before 30. Some hair loss may be another indication. Patches of white forming on the skin. Anemia, which is a decrease in red blood cells. Morning stiffness such as comes from arthritis, thickening of the skin, constipation, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, fatigue or slowdown in mental processes. Also, here to a swelling in the front of the neck, or what is known as a "goiter."

Thyroiditis is another condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, which can then result in the thyroid again producing either too little or too much thyroid hormone. This is usually treated with certain medications.

Thyroid disease can be genetic so it is always good to know if any family member, particularly grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles have had this disease. A simple blood test can determine if thyroid levels are normal, i.e. if the thyroid is producing normal amount of thyroxine (T4) and the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). If thyroid disease is suspected, a fairly inexpensive test called the T, resin uptake can be done, which will basically indicate if there are abnormal levels of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid disease when it does occur can be easily treated. In the case of hypothyroidism, this can be treated simply by a lifelong treatment of taking one hormone supplement per day.

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