The thyroid gland sits in front of the trachea, below the larynx. It is responsible for controlling metabolism by producing hormones that are carried through the bloodstream, affecting everything from oxygen to heat consumption. When your thyroid produces too much or too little hormone, it can have a serious adverse effect on your body.
Your thyroid is a crucial organ, regulating the amount of energy your body consumes. Sometimes, it can produce either too much or too little thyroid hormone, creating an imbalance that affects the organs.
When the it is overactive, it produces excess hormones that speed up metabolism. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, causes your heartbeat to speed up, leading to anxiety and irritability.
Symptoms include weak muscles, trembling hands, weight loss, fatigue, vision problems and an increased sensitivity to heat. It is frequently linked to Grave’s Disease, a disorder that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, causing it to produce too much hormone.
With hypothyroidism, the opposite occurs. Not enough hormones are produced, causing the metabolism to slow down. This leads to sluggishness, depression, weight gain, dry skin, constipation and an increased sensitivity to cold. Hashimoto’s Disease is a condition similar to Grave’s Disease, only it causes the body to produce too little hormone.
Treatment for thyroid disorders differs, based on whether you are suffering from an overactive thyroid gland or an underactive gland. Hyperthyroidism is managed with radioactive iodide, anti-thyroid medication or surgery. People with hypothyroidism must take a synthetic thyroid hormone, usually for the rest of their lives.
Thyroid nodules are lumps in the thyroid gland that may be solid or filled with fluid. They are usually noncancerous and rarely cause problems. In some cases, they may enlarge to the point where they cause breathing and swallowing difficulties or stimulate overproduction of thyroid hormone. Treatment depends on the size of the thyroid nodule and whether or not it’s cancerous. If a biopsy proves it’s benign and it isn’t causing any outward trouble, your doctor may suggest taking a wait-and-see approach. Unless it grows larger, treatment can be avoided. Surgery is the option of choice for malignant (cancerous) thyroid nodules.