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What is Thyroid Disease?

What is Thyroid Disease?

A thyroid disease is a condition that causes the thyroid gland which is located within our neck to function abnormally producing either too little or too much of the thyroid hormones that are essential for the regulation of our body’s metabolism.

The thyroid gland is prone to numerous diseases and disorders that can cause hyperthyroidism which is the overproduction of thyroid hormones and hypothyroidism which is the underproduction of thyroid hormones. In this medical guide on the thyroid gland, you learn about the most common diseases that can affect the thyroid.

Grave’s Disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease which is an autoimmune disorder that causes abnormal antibodies to be produced affecting the thyroid in such a way that it produces too much of the thyroid hormones causing the condition known as hyperthyroidism.

This disease is typically diagnosed based upon the presence of symptoms that are associated with hyperthyroidism, a physical examination, and blood tests results that show an abnormally high level of thyroid hormones.

While this disease can be effectively treated with prescription medications to bring the level of thyroid hormones back to normal, Grave’s disease is typically a life long disease that does not go away on it own and a more permanent form of treatment such as radioactive iodine or RAI is sometimes recommended.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is another type of autoimmune disease that is a common cause of hypothyroidism in teenagers. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes the cells within the thyroid gland to be destroyed significantly reducing the production of thyroid hormones.

This disease can also cause the thyroid gland to become significantly enlarged over a period of a few months or years and cause a goiter that can be visibly seen as a swelling in the front of the neck. A goiter can be significantly uncomfortable as it causes the sensation of having something stuck in the throat particularly when an individual is lying down on their back.

Other Disorders of the Thyroid

While Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the most common types of diseases that affect the thyroid gland, there are numerous other conditions that can cause abnormal levels of the thyroid hormones.

Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland that can cause either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. This condition can be caused by several underlying medical conditions including autoimmune disorders, infection, or a type of chemical exposure that is toxic to the thyroid gland. In some cases, the cause of thyroiditis may be unknown.

Thyroid nodules are also another condition that can affect the thyroid and are small lumps that typically do not cause a serious issue, however, thyroid nodules can sometimes develop into cancer and must be surgically removed.

Most thyroid problems can be effectively treated when they are detected early, therefore, if you are experiencing any symptoms that may be related to the thyroid that are concerning you, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for an evaluation.