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Thyroid Disorder

  • What is a Thyroid Disorder?

    The thyroid is a gland in the front of the neck that produces 2 types of hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which control various important metabolic processes including growth and energy expenditure. The thyroid can fail and become overactive, leading to hyperthyroidism, or underactive, leading to hypothyroidism. Women are more prone to thyroid disorders than men.

  • There are various causes that lead to hyperthyroidism.

    • The most common cause is Graves’ disease. This disease causes the immune system to produce antibodies which leads to the uncontrollable production of thyroxine. The disease leads to eye irritation and swelling, and vision problems and the causes are not yet fully understood, although genetics might be a factor.
    • Overactive thyroid can be caused by hyperactive thyroid nodules which produce too much thyroxine.
    • The swelling of the thyroid gland, known as thyroiditis, can also lead to hyperthyroidism.
  • The symptoms of a hyperthyroidism (overactive) include:

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

     

    The symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive) 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 age and physical state, and the cause and severity of the condition. The treatment options include:

    • Anti-thyroid medicine as the first-line treatment. It blocks the production of thyroid hormones, thus reducing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism
    • Hormone replacement therapy  which aims at controlling the thyroid hormone levels with a man-made thyroid hormone pill
    • Radioactive iodine treatment that is used if the anti-thyroid medications has no effect. It is given by mouth and can reduce the thyroid activity greatly, and even permanently
    • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland as 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 rhythm and heart failure
    • Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
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