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Thyroid Disorder

  • What is Thyroid Disorder?

    The thyroid is a gland located in the front of the neck. It produces two hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which help regulate many important metabolic processes in the body.

  • The thyroid can stop working properly and become overactive (hyperthyroidism), or underactive (hypothyroidism). Women are more prone to getting thyroid disorders than men.

  • There are several causes that lead to hyperthyroidism.

    • The common cause is Graves’ disease. This occurs when the immune system produces antibodies which cause the uncontrollable production of thyroxine. This leads to eye irritation and swelling, and vision problems. The causes of Graves’ disease are not yet fully understood, but genetics might be a factor.
    • Another cause is a hyperactive thyroid nodules which secrete too much thyroxine.
    • The swelling of the thyroid gland, known as thyroiditis, can also lead to hyperthyroidism.
  • The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

    • Anxiety, nervousness and irritability
    • Bulging eyes
    • Changes in menstruation
    • Diarrhoea
    • Fast heart rate and palpitations (fast, strong or irregular heartbeat)
    • Tiredness and sleepiness
    • Muscle weakness and trembling
    • Sensitivity to heat
    • Sleeping difficulties
    • Weight loss

     

    The symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

    • Changes in menstruation
    • Constipation
    • Depression
    • Tiredness and sleepiness
    • Weak fingernails and hair
    • Muscle pain and weakness
    • Pale skin and puffy face
    • Sensitivity to cold
    • Slow heart rate
    • Weight gain
  • The treatment of hyperthyroidism depends on the patient's age and physical state, as well as the cause and the severity of the condition. The treatment options include:

    • Anti-thyroid medicine is the first-line of treatment that blocks the production of thyroid hormones and slowly reduces the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
    • Hormone replacement therapy aims at controlling the thyroid hormone levels by using a man-made thyroid hormone pill.
    • Radioactive iodine treatment is used if the anti-thyroid medications do not work. Radioactive iodine is taken by mouth and can reduce the thyroid activity greatly, even permanently.
    • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is a last-resort option. Life-long medication to maintain normal thyroid hormone levels will be needed after the surgery.
    • Eye problems like bulging eyes and blurry vision (caused by Graves’ disease)
    • Fever and hallucinations
    • Irregular heart beat and heart failure
    • Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
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