Why Your Thyroid Counts
Subtle symptoms of thyroid disease can be confused with other illnesses, so knowing whether the gland is working as intended matters.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped structure in your neck, close to the voice box. Hormones produced in the gland control your body’s metabolism, including heartbeat, energy levels, temperature, digestion, or how you feel.
Your brain manages levels of hormones within the thyroid gland, by sending control hormones from the pituitary gland. They restrict, or increase those entering your system from the thyroid gland.
Although a small area of your body, the thyroid gland is responsible for much of the way you function and needs to work efficiently.
What Can Go Wrong?
Two main conditions occur with the thyroid gland:
- Hypothyroidism ( an underactive thyroid) – When not enough thyroxine is produced for the body’s needs.
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) – When too much thyroxine is produced for the body’s needs.
Of the two, hypothyroidism is more common, although both are significant disorders, normally requiring treatment, to safeguard health and relieve symptoms.
With an underactive thyroid, you may experience tiredness, feeling cold, weight gain, aching, or weak muscles, poor concentration, or memory, slow speech, or depression.
An overactive thyroid can bring weight loss, heat intolerance, additional sweating, thirst, itchiness, concentration loss, anxiety and in some cases, sore, or gritty eyes.
Whilst the symptoms seem convincing put together, you can see why they could be confused with other causes. There are also cases where very few symptoms are evident, although they generally worsen if not treated.
Solving The Puzzle
There will be times when physical signs point to thyroid issues, such as swelling, or lumps on your neck. Every chance in that case you will be referred to a thyroid specialist, known as an endocrinologist.
Seeing an endocrinology consultant can however make sense when you suspect a thyroid problem. Alonside blood tests, their experience will help with diagnosis and treatment if required.
For many people, successful treatment comes from medication designed to increase, or reduce thyroid hormone production. Further steps can be required to address rare causes and in a few cases, surgery may be the solution.
The causes of thyroid disease vary and include immune system issues, genetic elements, or iodine deficiency. They should be understood for each patient and after treatment, careful monitoring of medication makes sense.
The New Foscote Hospital ensures patients see a leading consultant at our endocrinology clinic. We would suggest you do the same wherever you are located, if symptoms suggest thyroid disease.
Apart from alleviating any issues you are experiencing and returning to a happier life, the right treatment protects your health in so many ways.
27 October 2023