The thyroid gland is an important endocrine gland in our body that produces hormones called, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are mainly responsible for the regulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. They are also necessary for the growth and development of children.
Thus any condition that causes either overproduction or inadequate production of thyroid hormones can have serious health-related implications.
Hyperthyroidism is a set of disorders which results from the excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.
Hyperthyroidism can result from a number of conditions listed below.
Everything in our body is adequately controlled. This stands true for the synthesis of thyroid hormones as well. Normally thyroid hormone synthesis occurs only in response to another hormone called Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that is secreted in a controlled manner.
Grave’s disease is characterized by the production of antibodies. These antibodies mimic Thyroid stimulating hormone. They keep stimulating thyroid gland all the time, thus causing hyperthyroidism.
Grave’s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It accounts for about 76% of the cases of hyperthyroidism. The other causes of hyperthyroidism include;
Hyperthyroidism commonly presents with the following symptoms
It can be diagnosed by using the following tests:
TSH is a hormone that regulates the synthesis of thyroid hormones. The secretion of TSH occurs in response to changes in the levels of thyroid hormones. If the thyroid hormone levels get low, TSH is released to raise the levels of thyroid hormones back to normal. Similarly if thyroid hormone level is high TSH synthesis is decreased to avoid any further production of thyroid hormones. Thus, in the case of hyperthyroidism, it is decreased to almost undetectable levels.
1. Autoantibody detection
We said grave’s disease was caused by antibodies produced by our own body. This is why we can use different tests to detect these antibodies.
2. Thyroid Radioactive Iodine Uptake
Thyroid gland takes up iodine in our body and utilizes it to produce thyroid hormones. The more the iodine uptake by thyroid gland the more active it is. We cannot measure the natural iodine that is taken up by the thyroid gland but we can measure the radioactive iodine. We provide the patient with radioactive iodine and measure how much of it is taken up by the thyroid gland. This gives us an idea of whether the thyroid gland is hyperactive or not.
There are following three methods available for the treatment of hyperthyroidism
They include drugs such as Carbimazole and Propylthiouracil. These medications work by decreasing the synthesis of thyroid hormones. They can treat hyperthyroidism but the problem with these drugs is that they cannot be used for a longer period of time. This is because they have the potential to decrease the white blood cells, making us prone to many infections.
Most of the clinical manifestations of the hyperthyroidism such as palpitations, anxiety, and tremors are mediated by the sympathetic nervous system. This drug helps us get rid of these symptoms by taking control of the sympathetic system.
We can surgically remove the hyperactive thyroid gland. There will be no production of thyroid hormone. However, the patient does need an optimum amount of thyroid hormone for normal functioning. This is why to fulfill the normal requirements of thyroid hormone we provide him with exogenous thyroxine.
This is a modern method of treating hyperthyroidism. We said Iodine is being utilized by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. We utilize the same principle here but we use radioactive iodine. Radiations are not good; they are toxic resulting in the destruction of cells of the thyroid gland, resulting in a decrease in the levels of thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism is a set of disorders resulting from a deficiency of thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism can result from a number of important conditions listed below.
Iodine is required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones so any deficiency in iodine can cause hypothyroidism. This is an important cause of hypothyroidism in the developing countries. However, in developed countries such as the United States of America iodine deficiency is not a problem anymore. This is addressed by the supplementation of Table salt with iodine.
This is an autoimmune disease and it is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States and other developing countries. It is characterized by the production of antibodies directed against the Thyroid gland. These antibodies cause destruction of the thyroid gland and thus a deficiency of thyroid hormones. It occurs more commonly in females.
Hypothyroidism affects almost every system of the body in a certain way. Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism are listed below.
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by using the following tests.
1. Thyroid Function Tests
2. Thyroid Antibodies
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in developing countries is Hashimoto’s disease. This is caused by autoantibodies. Thus, we can measure the levels of these antibodies to know whether the cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease or not.
Hypothyroidism can be effectively treated by internal medicine doctors by providing the patient with exogenous thyroid hormone (Thyroxine). The therapy with this hormone is life long and with use of this hormone a person can live a completely normal life.
Do you suffer from hyperthyroidism? Come to Century Medical and Dental Center (Downtown Brooklyn, Gravesend, Flatbush, Fort Greene and Midtown Manhattan) to receive your treatment options.
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