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Thyroid Gland

Thyroid Gland Image
Location of Thyroid Gland

Thyroid is a small gland (about 2 inches long) which has the shape like a butterfly that lies in the front of your neck. It has two sides called lobes, located either side of your windpipe. Further, these two lobes of the gland are connected by a small tissue called the isthmus.

Thyroid is a vital hormone gland which plays a major role in metabolism, growth, development, temperature, weight and heart rate of the human body by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) into the bloodstream. Also, during infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.

How the Thyroid Gland Works

Thyroid gland produces two type of hormones T3 and T4 by absorbing iodine from the food you eat. These hormones controls the body’s metabolism and are necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally. In other words, thyroid hormones regulates the speed with which your body cells work.

If too much of the hormones are released by the thyroid gland, then your body cells work faster than normal, and you have hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, if too little of the thyroid hormones are produced, then cells and organs of your body slow down, and you have hypothyroidism. Therefore, it is important that T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low in your body. 

The two thyroid hormones are:

  • T3 – Triiodothyronine: This hormone contains three atoms of iodine and is often called T3.
  • T4 – Thyroxine: This hormone contains four atoms of iodine and is often called T4.

How Thyroid Gland produce hormones as needed?

To produce the right amount of hormones, the thyroid gland needs the help of pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland how much hormones (T3 and T4) to produce.

Moreover, the pituitary gland monitors and controls the amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream:

  • When T3 and T4 levels are low in your body then pituitary gland makes more TSH to tell the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.
  • When T3 and T4 levels are high pituitary gland makes less TSH.

Please note, TSH levels that are too high or too low can indicate your thyroid is not working properly.

Thyroid disease

  • Hypothyroidism: It is a condition in which thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. It is also called under active thyroid or low thyroid, which can slow down the metabolism rate of your body and can decrease the cardiac activity. (read more)
  • Hyperthyroidism: It is a condition in which thyroid gland produces too much hormones. It is also called overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate the metabolism rate of your body. As a result, it can cause weight loss and irregular heart activity. (read more)
  • Goiter: A Goiter is an abnormal enlargement of thyroid gland. It indicates a condition, in which thyroid grows abnormally. Goiter commonly develops as a result of iodine deficiency or due to thyroid problem. (read more)
  • Graves’ Disease: It is an autoimmune disorder that cause an over active thyroid gland and results in an over production of thyroid hormones (Hyperthyroidism). In this disease, your immune system creates antibodies known as thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI). These antibodies then attach to healthy thyroid cells and can cause your thyroid to create too much thyroid hormone. (read more)
  • Hashimoto’s Disease: Hashimoto’s Disease in an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which thyroid does not make enough hormones for body’s need. (read more)
  • Thyroid Nodules: The term thyroid nodule refers to an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that forms a lump within the thyroid gland. It can be solid or filled with fluid. Most thyroid nodules aren’t serious and don’t cause symptoms. Only a small percentage of thyroid nodules are cancerous. (read more)
  • Thyroid Cancer: It is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. The malignant cells begin multiplying in your thyroid and, once there are enough of them, they form a tumor. If it’s caught early, then thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. (read more)

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Thyroid Tests

Doctors use thyroid tests to check how well your thyroid gland is working. Thyroid tests also help your doctor to diagnose and find the cause of thyroid diseases such as:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Goiter
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Thyroiditis
  • Hashimoto’s Disease
  • Thyroid Nodules
  • Thyroid Cancer

Tests for your Thyroid include:

  1. Physical exams
  2. Blood tests
  3. Imaging tests
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Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. It refers to a state in which your thyroid hormones production is bellow normal. It is also called under active thyroid or low thyroid, which can slow down many of your body’s functions such as your metabolism and can decrease the cardiac activity. Hypothyroidism affects women more frequently than men.

Furthermore, blood tests are the only way to reliably confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism varies from person to person. It depends upon the deficiency in hormone production by your thyroid gland. In addition, symptoms of hypothyroidism also depend upon the length of time your body has been without the proper amount of thyroid hormone. 

Many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those of other medical problems, therefore, it can easily be confused for something else. Moreover, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism often develop slowly and you may not notice symptoms of the hypothyroidism for months or even years.

The most common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in Adults

  • Hair Loss
  • Puffy Face (Swollen Face)
  • Feeling cold when other people do not (Cold Sensitivity)
  • Weight Gain
  • Dry Skin
  • Slow heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Irregular Periods in women
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Joint Pain
  • Pain, numbness, tingling and general weakness in the hand and wrist (Carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Feeling more forgetful
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in sex

If you have one or more of above mentioned symptoms, please contact your doctor, who may refer you to an endocrinologist for diagnosis. They can order a blood test to check if you have hypothyroidism.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in Infants

When a baby is born with hypothyroidism, it is called congenital hypothyroidism. Congenital means present from birth. Initially, a newborn baby may have few or no symptoms of hypothyroidism because, some thyroid hormone from the mother crosses the placenta. Once infants no longer receive thyroid hormone from the mother, symptoms develop slowly. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (Jaundice)
  • An enlarged swollen tongue that sticks out
  • A hoarse cry
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bellybutton that sticks out too far (Umbilical hernia)
  • Feeding problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Low body temperature

As the disease progresses, infants are likely to have trouble feeding and may fail to grow and develop normally. They may also have:

  • Poor or slow growth
  • Abnormally low muscle tone (floppy infant)
  • Lethargy (lack of energy, sleeping longer or more often than usual)
  • Constipation
  • Puffy face

Without treatment, baby with congenital hypothyroidism can develop permanent mental disabilities.  Therefore, contact your doctor immediately if your baby has any of the above mentioned symptoms. Please note that these symptoms can be due to other medical problems. 

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in Children and Teens

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in children and teens are generally the same as adults. However, they may also experience:

  • Poor growth and short stature
  • Delayed mental development
  • Slow reaction time
  • Slower development of permanent teeth
  • Delayed puberty
  • Weight gain

What causes Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones.

The most common causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system produces antibodies that attack and destroy your own thyroid gland. As a result, your thyroid gland will not able to make enough thyroid hormone, which leads to the Hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. (Read more)

  • Inflammation of the Thyroid Gland (Thyroiditis): Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland, usually caused by viral infection, autoimmune attack or after pregnancy. It causes thyroid hormone to leak out of your thyroid gland into the blood. As a result, the leakage increases your thyroid hormone levels, leading to hyperthyroidism.

    Furthermore, the hyperthyroidism may last for many months. After that, your thyroid gland gradually become underactive and the condition may become permanent, this may develop into hypothyroidism.

  • Radiation therapy: Patients with lymphoma, or cancer of the head or neck are treated with radiation therapy. Radiation used for the treatment may damage the cells of the thyroid gland and make it difficult for the thyroid gland to produce hormones. This may lead to hypothyroidism.

  • Radioactive Iodine treatment: This treatment is commonly prescribed to people who have hyperthyroidism, to reduce their thyroid hormone production. The Radioactive iodine slowly destroys the cells of your thyroid gland. As a result, your thyroid shrink in size and your levels of thyroid hormone go down permanently. In other words. if you receive Radioactive iodine treatment, your thyroid activity will get slow enough to be considered as hypothyroidism.

  • Thyroid surgery: During surgery, all or part of your thyroid gland is removed by your doctor. This is also known as thyroidectomy. Doctors may remove part or all of the thyroid gland for the treatment of:

  • Use of certain medicines: Some medicines can interfere with thyroid hormone production, resulting in hypothyroidism. These include:

    • Heart medicines
    • Mental disorder (psychiatric disorders) medicines
    • Cancer medicines

      Furthermore, the medicines used to treat above mentioned diseases can prevent your thyroid gland from being able to make thyroid hormone normally. Therefore, if you are taking medication, ask your doctor about its effect on your thyroid gland.

Less common causes include:

  • Pituitary gland disorder: A problem with the pituitary gland may also cause hypothyroidism, because your pituitary gland release a hormone called Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland how much hormone to make and release.

    If the pituitary gland is damaged due to tumor, radiation, or surgery, it may no longer be able to produce enough Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). As a result, the thyroid gland may stop making enough thyroid hormone and can lead to hypothyroidism. This type of hypothyroidism is known as secondary hypothyroidism.

    Please note, Secondary hypothyroidism means decreased activity of the thyroid gland caused by failure of the pituitary gland.

  • Disorder of the hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is a small but an important area of the brain. It is located at the base of the brain, above pituitary gland. The hypothalamus releases a hormone know as thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Further, the TSH instructs the thyroid gland to make and release thyroid hormone.

    If the hypothalamus in the brain does not produce enough TRH, this will affect the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. In other words, if a person has too little thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), they will develop hypothyroidism. However, this is an extremely rare form of hypothyroidism, usually occur due to an injury or tumour which destroys the hypothalamus. This condition is known as central hypothyroidism.

  • Congenital hypothyroidism When a baby is born with hypothyroidism, it’s called congenital hypothyroidism. The most common cause of congenital hypothyroidism is failure of the thyroid gland to grow in the baby before birth. At birth, the baby may have no thyroid gland at all, or have an abnormally developed thyroid gland. Why this happens is often unknown, however, in some cases, genetic defects or maternal iodine deficiency may cause this. Furthermore, while some babies may show no signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, others will be less active or have trouble feeding. It is very important to diagnose and treat the condition as soon as possible.

    If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to physical and mental growth problems. Therefore, if your baby has congenital hypothyroidism, it is very important that proper treatment is initiated early to prevent it from delaying growth or mental development.

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy can be a cause of hypothyroidism. Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy. If hypothyroidism occurs during or after pregnancy, it is usually due to Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and damage the thyroid gland. As a result, thyroid gland cannot not make and release enough hormones for body’s need and leads to hypothyroidism.

    If left untreated, hypothyroidism increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and a significant rise in blood pressure during late pregnancy. Moreover, it can also seriously affect the developing fetus. Therefore, if you have hypothyroidism, it is important to control your thyroid levels during pregnancy.

  • Iodine deficiency: Your thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormone. However, your body does not make iodine, therefore, you need to get it through your diet. Further, keeping thyroid hormone production in balance requires the right amount of iodine in the diet. Please note, too little iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and too much iodine can worsen hypothyroidism in people who already have the condition. Therefore, talk to your doctor about how much iodine you need.

    Moreover, lack of iodine in the diet is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in many developing countries. Food sources of iodine include:
    • Iodized salt
    • Seafood
    • Eggs
    • Dairy products

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Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

It is very important that hypothyroidism is diagnosed as soon as possible. Therefore, if you have signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, contact your doctor immediately for complete diagnosis. Further, there are two methods used to determine whether you have hypothyroidism:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and perform a physical examination. In physical exam, your doctor will check your thyroid gland and look for physical signs of hypothyroidism such as dry skin, slower heart rate, swelling in neck and weight gain.

    Moreover, your doctor will also ask you about any symptoms you have been experiencing, such as fatigue, constipation, or constantly feeling cold etc.

    However, the diagnosis of hypothyroidism cannot be based on symptoms alone because many of its symptoms are the same as those of other diseases.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are the only way to confirm the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Therefore, your doctor will order blood tests to check your hormone levels. These may include:

    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test: This is the most important and sensitive test to diagnose hypothyroidism. This test measures how much TSH your pituitary gland is producing. If the TSH level is above normal, you may have hypothyroidism.

    • Thyroxine (T4) tests: This test is also useful in diagnosing hypothyroidism. T4 is one of the main hormones produced by the thyroid gland. If your T4 level is below normal, it usually means you have hypothyroidism.

    Together, T4 and TSH tests can help diagnose the thyroid function. If your TSH level is elevated and the T4 level is low, it means you have hypothyroidism. However, if your TSH is elevated but the T4 is normal, this is called subclinical hypothyroidism. It is believed to be an early stage of hypothyroidism.

    In addition to the above, your doctor may also recommend additional blood tests such as T3 and thyroid autoantibody tests to confirm the diagnosis or find out the cause of hypothyroidism.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism cannot be cured. But the good news is that hypothyroidism is usually quite easy to treat. Hypothyroidism is usually treated by taking the oral medicine called levothyroxine.

Levothyroxine is a synthetic (man-made) thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). Its pills contain hormone exactly like the thyroxine (T4), which your own thyroid gland can no longer make. This oral medicine is typically taken daily to restore adequate hormone levels in your body and reversing the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Your doctor may recommend taking this medicine in the morning before eating each day.

Furthermore, your doctor will give you a blood test to check your TSH levels about 6 to 8 weeks after you start taking levothyroxine. Your dosage can be adjusted by your doctor depending upon the results of your blood test. Once your TSH levels are stable and the correct dose is identified, your doctor may recommend blood test only once every 6 months.

Treatment of hypothyroidism with levothyroxine is usually continued for the rest of your life, but your doctor may adjust your dose over time. Please note, never increase or decrease the dose of levothyroxine without first consulting your doctor. Taking too much dose can cause serious problems, such as:

  • Appetite increases
  • Inability to sleep (Insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations (Skipping heartbeat)
  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness

Diet in Hypothyroidism

If we talk about diet plan for hypothyroidism, then there are certainly many do’s and dont’s. However, the diet cannot cure or prevent hypothyroidism. It can only help to manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Moreover, some foods may improve certain symptoms, while others may make them worse or interfere with treatment.

What to Eat
  • Cheese, Milk, Yogurt.
  • Fish, Tuna, Shrimp, Oysters, Crab
  • Eggs, Meat, Chicken, Turkey, Ham
  • Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Quinoa etc.
  • Berries, Apples, Peaches, Grapes, Citrus fruits Pineapple, Bananas etc.
  • Greens, Asparagus, Carrots, Peppers, Spinach, Mushrooms etc.
  • Potatoes, Peas, Butternut squash etc.
  • Almonds, Cashews, Pumpkin seeds, Natural peanut butter etc.
  • Dairy Products
  • Non caffeinated Beverages
  • Selenium rich food
What to avoid
  • Soy Foods, Tofu.
  • Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Turnip.
  • Gluten, found in Bread and Pasta.
  • Fatty foods such as Butter, Mayonnaise, Fatty cuts of meat and Fried foods.
  • Alcohol.
  • Processed Foods in Packages.
  • Foods and beverages high in added sugar.

Do not try any new diets without talking to your doctor first. It is important to always have a conversation with your doctor or a registered dietician before starting a new diet, especially if you have hypothyroidism.

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Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones. It refers to a state in which your thyroid hormones production is above normal level. It is also called overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate the metabolism rate of your body. As a result, it can cause weight loss and irregular heart activity. It is more common in women than men. Blood tests are the only way to reliably confirm a diagnosis.

Furthermore, having too much of thyroid hormones can cause unpleasant and potentially serious problems that may need treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be easily confused with other disease, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Moreover signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism varies from person to person. It can also cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Bulging Eyes
  • Abnormal Heart Rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Irritability
  • Itching
  • Heat Intolerance
  • Stress
  • Sleeplessness
  • Vision Problem
  • Frequent Sweating
  • Irregular Mensuration
  • Nervousness

If you suspect your symptoms are the result of a thyroid problem, it is most important you talk with your doctor. They can order a blood test to measure the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. Because high levels of Thyroxine (T4) and low amounts of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) in blood indicates an overactive thyroid.

What causes Hyperthyroidism?

Several diseases and conditions can cause hyperthyroidism, including:

  • Graves’ Disease: It is an autoimmune disorder that cause over production of thyroid hormones in your body. In this disease, your immune system creates antibodies known as thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI). These antibodies then attach to the healthy thyroid cells and can cause your thyroid to create too much thyroid hormone. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. (read more)
  • Thyroid Nodules: The term thyroid nodule refers to an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that forms a lump in your thyroid gland. These Nodules can become overactive and may produce excess thyroid hormones than your body needs, resulting in hyperthyroidism. Thyroid nodules are more common in older adults. (read more)
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis is inflammation of your thyroid gland, which may be painful or painless. Sometimes your thyroid gland can become inflamed after pregnancy, due to an infection or an immune system problem. Further, the inflammation can cause thyroid hormone to leak out of your thyroid gland into your bloodstream. As a result, you may develop symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Types of thyroiditis that can cause hyperthyroidism include:
    1. Subacute Thyroiditis: A painful enlarged thyroid, possibly from a virus or bacteria.
    2. Postpartum Thyroiditis: It can develop after a woman gives birth.
    3. Painless/Silent Thyroiditis: Your thyroid gland may be enlarged due to an autoimmune condition (in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid).
  • To much Iodine: Excess iodine can cause temporary hyperthyroidism. Please note, iodine is a mineral that your thyroid gland uses to create thyroid hormone. Some foods and medications contain iodine and taking too much of them can cause your thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone.

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How is Hyperthyroidism diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose hyperthyroidism by several methods, including:

  • Analysis of your medical history and symptoms: Your doctor will ask about your personal and family medical history and look for symptoms including a swollen thyroid, a fast pulse, moist skin, and shaking in your hands or fingers.
  • A physical examination: If you are experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, your doctor may check the following during a physical examination:
    1. Your Thyroid gland: Your doctor may gently feel your thyroid gland through the outside of your neck to check if it is enlarged, bumpy or tender.
    2. Your Hand or Fingers: Your doctor may try to detect a tremor (slight shaking) in your hands or fingers when they are extended.
    3. Your Eyes: Your doctors may check your eyes for the abnormalities such as swelling, redness, bulging and other signs of Graves’ disease.
    4. Your Skin: Your doctor may check your skin to see if it is moist (slightly damp or wet).
  • Blood tests for diagnosing hyperthyroidism: The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism can be confirmed by blood tests. Therefore, your doctor may recommend a blood test to measure the levels of thyroid hormones and related substances such as T3, T4 and TSH in your body. The test is known as a Thyroid Function Test. This test checks the levels of:

    1. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH): It is produced and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized structure) which is located at the base of your brain. TSH tells the thyroid gland how much T4 and T3 to make. (read more)
    2. Triiodothyronine (T3): It is one of the main thyroid hormones, containing three atoms of iodine. (read more)
    3. Thyroxine (T4) : Another of the main thyroid hormones, containing four atoms of iodine. (read more)

    Please note, when you have hyperthyroidism, levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are above normal and level of TSH is lower than normal. In other words, high levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and low amount of TSH indicate hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid).

    Further Blood Test: In addition to above mentioned blood tests, your doctor may also order thyroid antibody tests.

    1. Thyroid Antibody Test: This test measures the level of thyroid antibodies in your blood. Thyroid antibodies are made when your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells of your thyroid gland. This is known as an autoimmune disorder. Moreover, the presence of thyroid antibodies in your blood suggests that the cause of thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder, such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease. There are three major types of thyroid antibodies:

    • Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO): These antibodies can be a sign of Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease.
    • Thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg): These antibodies can also be an indication of Hashimoto disease. Most people with Hashimoto disease have raised levels of both Tg and TPO antibodies.
    • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor: These antibodies can be a sign of Grave’s disease.
  • Imaging Tests for diagnosing hyperthyroidism: If your blood tests indicate hyperthyroidism, your doctor may order one of the following imaging tests to diagnose and find the cause why your thyroid is overactive.
    1. Ultrasound of thyroid: This test is most often used to look for thyroid nodules in your thyroid gland. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your thyroid gland. For an ultrasound, a technician will run a device called a transducer over your neck. Further, the transducer bounces safe and painless sound waves off your neck to make pictures of your thyroid. Ultrasound can help your doctor to detect if the nodules are more likely to be cancerous.

    2. Radioactive iodine uptake test: This test helps your doctor to find the cause of hyperthyroidism by measuring how much radioactive iodine your thyroid gland absorbs/takes up from your blood after you swallow a small, safe dose of radioactive iodine. During this test, you will sit on a chair while a technician scan your neck with a device called a gamma probe. Further, the probe measures how much radioactive iodine your thyroid absorbs from your blood. Measurements are often taken 4 to 6 hours after you swallow the radioactive iodine and again at 24 hours.

      If your thyroid collects a large amount of radioactive iodine, you probably have Graves’ disease or thyroid nodules. Please note, women should always tell their doctor and technician if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    3. Thyroid scan: For thyroid scan, a technician injects a small amount of radioactive iodine or a similar substance into your vein that will be absorbed by your thyroid. Further, during the scan, you will lie on a moveable examination table with your head stretched backward and neck extended. The gamma camera will then take a series of images of your thyroid gland from different angles and display them on computer screen. The radioactive substance makes all or certain parts of your thyroid gland appear “bright” on the screen. Moreover, thyroid nodules that make too much thyroid hormone show up clearly in the images.

      Furthermore, a thyroid scan can also reveal whether the entire thyroid gland or just a single area is causing the problem. Your doctor may use a thyroid scan to look for nodules, inflammation and thyroid cancer. Please note, women should always tell their doctor and technician if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Hyperthyroidism Treatment

The treatment of your hyperthyroidism depends on the cause of hyperthyroidism, how severe it is, your age and physical condition. Further, hyperthyroidism is usually treated with one or more of the following:

  • Antithyroid medicines: These medicines stop your thyroid gland from producing too much thyroid hormone. The antithyroid medicines may take several weeks or months to bring your thyroid hormone levels into the normal range and also gradually reduce your symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, you probably need to take the medicines for 1 to 2 years, but can continue for many years.

    Moreover, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), antithyroid medicines can cause side effects, including:

    • Allergic reactions, such as rashes and itching.
    • Joint Pain.
    • Reduced white blood cells in your body, which can increase the chance of infections.
    • Liver failure, in rare cases.

    So call your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as yellow skin or eyes, fatigue, fever, sore throat, or pain in your belly. Furthermore, you should also follow up regularly with your doctor to determine whether or not the dose needs to be adjusted based on your thyroid function test results.

    Also make sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning for the same, and if you take other medications. Please always take medication as advised by your doctor.

  • Beta blocker medicines: Your doctor may prescribe a medicine known as beta blocker. These drugs cannot treat the high levels of thyroid hormone in your blood, but can help to reduce the symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as nervousness, anxiety, shaking, or a fast heartbeat.

    Therefore, your doctor may prescribe these drugs to help you feel better until other treatments take effect. Please note, this treatment is not used alone and is usually paired with another option to treat hyperthyroidism.

  • Radioactive iodine therapy: Radioactive iodine is usually taken by mouth as a tablet or liquid, that contains iodine and a low dose of radiation. Once swallowed, the radioactive iodine gets into your bloodstream and quickly absorb by your overactive thyroid cells. Further, radioactive iodine slowly destroys the cells of the thyroid gland. As a result, your thyroid shrink in size and your levels of thyroid hormone go down. This treatment may cause your thyroid activity slow enough to be considered as hypothyroidism, which is easier to treat than hyperthyroidism.

    Radioactive iodine therapy is a common and effective treatment for hyperthyroidism. However, this therapy is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can harm the fetus’ thyroid and can be passed from mother to child through breast milk.

  • Surgery of the Thyroid Gland: During surgery, all or part of your thyroid gland is removed by your doctor. This is also known as thyroidectomy. Your doctor may recommend surgery if you do not respond to other treatments or cannot tolerate other therapies for hyperthyroidism. However, surgery is used in rare cases to treat hyperthyroidism.

    Furthermore, after surgery, if all of your thyroid gland is removed, you will become hypothyroid. As a result, you will need to take levothyroxine (a synthetic form of thyroid hormone) for the rest of your life. It is usually prescribed by the doctor as one small pill a day. Taking this drug prevents hypothyroidism.

    In addition, thyroid surgery comes with small risk of injury to structures near the thyroid gland in the neck. It can damage the nerves of your vocal cords and your parathyroid glands.

What Foods are Good and Bad for Hyperthyroidism?

Your thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. Therefore, eating foods that have large amounts of iodine may cause hyperthyroidism or make it worse. Hence, it is important to watch your iodine intake if you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

Furthermore, if we talk about diet plan, then there are certainly many do’s and dont’s. Although a healthy diet cannot cure or prevent hyperthyroidism, however, eating healthy foods may help ease hyperthyroidism symptoms.

What to Eat
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Potato
  • Honey
  • Cauliflower, Broccoli
  • Unsalted Nuts
  • Egg whites
  • Radishes 
  • Moderate portions of Red Meat, Chicken
What to avoid
  • Dairy Products
  • Soy Products
  • Salted Nuts and Seeds
  • Caffeine
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Seaweed
  • Egg yolks
  • Chocolate

Please note, talk to your doctor about which foods, supplements, and medicines you need to avoid. Your doctor or dietitian will be able to provide more information about dietary changes for hyperthyroidism. Always consult your doctor or a registered dietician before making any drastic changes to your diet.

In addition, stress management and exercising can help ease hyperthyroid symptoms. So you can start with some simple exercises like walking, aerobics, pushups and yoga.

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Goiter

Goiter
Enlarged Thyroid (Goiter)

A Goiter is an abnormal enlargement of thyroid gland which is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of your neck. It indicates a condition, in which, thyroid grows abnormally. Goiter commonly develops as a result of iodine deficiency or due to thyroid problem.

In other words, if your thyroid gland is producing too much hormones ie. (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism), you can develop a goiter. Women are more likely to develop a goiter than men.

Further, it is important to know that, having a goiter doesn’t always mean that your thyroid gland is malfunctioning. However, an enlarged thyroid gland can produce a normal amount of hormones. Goiters are generally pain less but some times you may feel difficulty in swallowing food and breathing.

Symptoms

Very primary symptom of goiter is a noticeable swelling in front of the neck. Not all the goiter cause symptoms but in some cases people experience symptoms given below:

  • Tightness in throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Lump in neck
  • Coughing
  • Voice hoarseness
  • In severe cases, difficulty breathing

What causes goiter?

There are different conditions that causes Goiter.

Iodine Deficiency: The primary activity of the thyroid gland is to concentrate iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormone. The gland cannot make enough thyroid hormone if it does not have enough iodine.

Therefore, due to iodine deficiency the individual will become hypothyroid. Consequently, the pituitary gland in the brain senses the thyroid hormone level is too low and sends a signal Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to the thyroid. This hormone (TSH) stimulates the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone and to grow in size. Hence, this abnormal growth in size of thyroid is termed a “goiter.”

Hashimoto’s disease : The main cause of goiter in developed countries is autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder. It damages your thyroid, causing low production of hormones ie. (Hypothyroidism).

As a result, sensing a low hormone level, your pituitary gland produces more Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) . This hormone stimulates the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone and to grow in size. This abnormal growth in size of thyroid is termed a “goiter.”

Hormonal Changes: Women leading to menopause can develop a goiter as there are so many hormonal changes occurs at that time. Women above age of 40 have more chances to develop it. Pregnancy also makes so many hormonal changes in women, so this can also lead to develop a goiter.

Family History: Hereditary factors may cause goiter. If one of the parent is suffering from it, then you may have chances to develop it as well.

How is goiter diagnosed?

  • Physical Examination: Your doctor may be able to tell if the thyroid gland has grown by feeling the neck area for nodules and signs of tenderness.
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid: It is a procedure which sends high frequency sound waves through thyroid to find out the gland’s size and nodules. It can be used to visualize the thyroid gland.
  • Hormone test: A blood test which measures the hormone levels of the body to check the proper working of thyroid.
  • CT scan: CT scan or MRI is used to measure the size of goiter.
  • Biopsy: In this procedure a small specimen is taken from thyroid tissue with a needle and send it to laboratory for further examination.

Treatment

Your doctor will decide on a course of treatment based on the size and condition of your goiter, and symptoms associated with it.

  • Medications: If you have hypothyroidism, then thyroid hormone replacement with levothyroxine will resolve the symptoms of it. This also slow down the release of thyroid stimulating hormone from your pituitary gland, often decreasing the size of the goiter.
  • Radioactive iodine treatment: This treatment is used in cases of an overactive thyroid gland. It involves taking radioactive iodine orally. Furthermore, iodine goes to thyroid gland through your bloodstream and kills thyroid cells. The treatment results in a diminished size of the goiter. However, After this treatment, the patient usually has to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of his or her life.
  • Surgery: It is performed to remove all or part of your thyroid gland. It may also be needed if the goiter is large and causes problems with breathing and swallowing. Surgery is also sometimes used to remove nodules. It must be done if cancer is present. You may also need to take levothyroxine after surgery, depending on the amount of thyroid removed.

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Diet and Yoga

Diet: If your goiter is caused by your diet then you may need to increase or decrease your iodine intake at home.

Kindly discuss your diet plan with your doctor. He/She will tell you how much iodine is required per day for keeping your thyroid healthy.

Yoga: Yoga brings many benefits to your overall health. It can help treat your thyroid gland naturally. Several studies have shown the positive effect of yoga for improving thyroid function.

However, it is important to know that Yoga can not cure but can help maintain and improve your thyroid function. Kindly note, Yoga is a complementary therapy and should not be used as a replacement for your existing medical treatment. Therefore, before you start practicing yoga for thyroid problems, make sure to consult with your doctor. 

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