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What is Thyroid

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower neck responsible for producing hormones that control metabolism. Abnormalities in the thyroid gland are quite common affecting up to 5% of the general population.  Even subtle imbalances in thyroid hormone levels can lead to symptoms, such as weight gain, fatigue, muscle aches, constipation and depression. The cause of these symptoms may go unexplained for years unless your physician considers the thyroid as the potential cause, and orders the appropriate diagnostic tests.

Thyroid Conditions

HYPOTHYROIDISM: usually an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone to support the body’s metabolism. Untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to an increase risk of heart disease. The most common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pains
  • Slow heart rate
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Brittle nails Enlarged thyroid gland

HYPERTHYROIDISM: condition in which the thyroid produces abnormally high levels of thyroid hormone, creating a hypermetabolic state. The causes of an overactive thyroid can be infection, as is the case with subacute thyroiditis, autoimmune disease from Grave’s disease, and toxic thyroid nodules. Hyperthyroidism, if left untreated, can eventually lead to osteoporosis and cardiac abnormalities, including an enlarged heart and irregular heart rhythm.

The most common signs and symptoms seen in hyperthyroidism are:
  • Anxiety and/or hyperactivity
  • Tremor
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sensitivity to heat and excessive
  • Sweating
  • Bulging eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Enlarged thyroid gland


A general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.


Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.

Graves disease:

An autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is overstimulated, causing hyperthyroidism. .

Thyroid Cancer:

An uncommon form of cancer, thyroid cancer is usually curable. Surgery, radiation, and hormone treatments may be used to treat thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Nodule::

A small abnormal mass or lump in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common. Few are cancerous. They may secrete excess hormones, causing hyperthyroidism, or cause no problems.

Thyroid Storm:

A rare form of hyperthyroidism in which extremely high thyroid hormone levels cause severe illness. .

Thyroid Treatments

Thyroid Hormone Pills:

Daily treatment that replaces the amount of thyroid hormone you can no longer make. Thyroid hormone pills (levothyroxine) treat hypothyroidism, and are also used to help prevent thyroid cancer from coming back after treatment. .

Antithyroid Medications:

Drugs can slow down the overproduction of thyroid hormone in hyperthyroidism. Common antithyroid medicines are carbimazole, methimazole and propylthiouracil.

Thyroid Surgery (thyroidectomy):

A surgeon removes all or part of the thyroid in an operation. Thyroidectomy is performed for thyroid cancer, goiter, or hyperthyroidism. .

Radioactive Iodine:

Iodine with radioactivity that can be used in low doses to test the thyroid gland or destroy an overactive gland. Large doses can be used to destroy cancerous tissue.

External Radiation:

A beam of radiation is directed at the thyroid, on multiple appointments. The high-energy rays help kill thyroid cancer cells.

Recombinant Human TSH:

Injecting this thyroid-stimulating agent can make thyroid cancer show up more clearly on imaging tests.