Thyroid Gland Disorder – What Causes It?

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By Dr. Vishal Garg , Endocrinology

The thyroid gland is a small gland responsible for the production of hormones which regulate the metabolic rate in our body. Overproduction of hormones by this organ causes hyperthyroidism. Inadequate functioning of this gland causes hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a result of an over-active thyroid gland. Studies show that this disorder is more common in women than men.

Causes of hyperthyroidism-

  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Graves’ disease
  • Excess iodine in the body

Main symptoms of hyperthyroidism-

  • Increased irritability
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Anxiety and nervousness

Hypothyroidism: Low production of thyroxin (hormone produced by the thyroid gland) leads to hypothyroidism. It leads to reduced metabolism which in turn leads to other related issues like weight gain. Hypothyroidism occurs in both males and females. It is more common among individuals above 50 years of age.

Causes of hypothyroidism-

  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Stress
  • Excess oestrogen in the body which binds to the thyroid hormone and makes it less available for use.

Main symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Reduced memory

Diagnosis of thyroid disorders and their treatment:
Doctors prescribe blood tests to diagnose thyroid gland related issues. The TSH and thyroxin levels are measured using these blood tests. If the amount of these hormones is above or below the optimum level then further diagnosis maybe needed to locate the root cause of such an occurrence.

The treatment for hyperthyroidism aims to block the production of excessive hormones by the thyroid glands. Depending on the intensity of the problem, the treatment varies from taking anti-thyroid drugs to the surgical removal of the gland.

Hypothyroidism can be corrected by taking medication which stimulates production of thyroxin. In case the issue is caused by low iodine then doctors may ask the patient to increase the intake of seafood and other items rich in iodine.

Thyroid related disorders mostly remain unidentified because people suffering from it are unaware of its symptoms. Greater awareness about thyroid related issues can help in solving this issue.