One of the most important glands in the endocrine system is the thyroid gland. This gland is located at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for coordinating many events in the body and regulating the metabolism of the body through the regulation of hormones. When these hormones produced by the thyroid gland are produced either in excess or become deficient, several disorders can be experienced by the body. The following are the types of thyroid diseases and their causes and symptoms:
- Hyperthyroidism: In this condition, the thyroid gland is hyperactive and produces the hormone in excess. The most common cause of this condition is Graves’ disease. About 70% of people with an overactive thyroid are prone to this disease, which in turn causes hyperthyroidism. Toxic nodular goiter or multinodular goiter can also lead to the condition. Some symptoms of the condition are anxiety, restlessness, irritability, muscle weakness, bulging eyes, weight loss, etc.
- Hypothyroidism: In this condition, the thyroid is inactive and doesn’t produce the required amount of hormones. This condition is often caused by Hashimoto’s disease, radiation treatment, or the surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Some symptoms of this condition are weight gain, slow heart rate, depression, coma, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, memory issues, etc.
- Hashimoto’s disease: Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, this condition affects about 14 million people in the country. It is an auto-immune condition wherein the body’s immune system attacks and slowly degrades the thyroid gland and its capability to produce its hormones. Some of the symptoms for this condition are dry skin, thinning hair, depression, fatigue, irregular menstruation, enlarged thyroid, etc.
- Graves’ disease: This condition is known to affect about 1 in 200 people and similar to Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune disorder. However, in this case, the immune system’s reaction against the gland results in the thyroid gland overproducing its hormones. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, hand tremors, goiter, bulging eyes, anxiety, hand tremors, irritability, etc.
- Goiter: This condition is majorly caused because of iodine deficiency. 200 million people get affected by goiter around the world. Goiter is also caused by hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms of this condition are coughing/wheezing, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, swelling in the neck, and hoarseness of voice.
- Thyroid nodules: This condition includes growths on or in the thyroid gland. The causes are not entirely known but iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease are possible causes of the condition. Some of the symptoms of the condition include nervousness, increased appetite, weight loss, clammy skin, tremors, high pulse rate, etc. However, if the nodules are associated with Hashimoto’s disease, then the symptoms would be similar to that of hypothyroidism. These symptoms would be hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and dry skin.
Apart from hypothyroidism, which has been significantly reduced by the addition of iodine to table salt, most thyroid diseases are not preventable. While it is slightly difficult to prevent different types of thyroid diseases, their complications can always be managed and immediate diagnosis is key.