Thyroid Diseases

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — have an enormous impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins.Your thyroid also produces calcitonin, a hormone that helps regulate the amount of calcium in your blood.

The rate at which T-4 and T-3 are released is controlled by your pituitary gland and your hypothalamus — an area at the base of your brain that acts as a thermostat for your whole system. Here’s how the process works:

The hypothalamus signals your pituitary gland to make a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Your pituitary gland then releases TSH — the amount depends on how much T-4 and T-3 are in your blood. If you don’t have enough T-4 and T-3 in your blood, your TSH will rise; if you have too much, your TSH level will fall. Finally, your thyroid gland regulates its production of hormones based on the amount of TSH it receives. If the thyroid gland is diseased and is releasing too much thyroid hormone on its own, the TSH blood level will remain below normal; if the diseased thyroid gland cannot make enough thyroid hormone, the TSH blood level will remain high.

  1. Goiter

Goiter is a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland. The most common cause of goiter worldwide is iodine deficiency in the diet. Goiter is often caused by (and a symptom of) hyperthyroidism where iodized salt provides plenty of iodine. Goiter can affect anyone at any age, especially in areas of the world where foods rich in iodine are in short supply. However, goiters are more common after the age of 40 and in women, who are more likely to have thyroid disorders. Other risk factors include family medical history, certain medication usage, pregnancy, and radiation exposure.When hypothyroidism isn’t treated, signs and symptoms can gradually become more severe. Constant stimulation of your thyroid gland to release more hormones may lead to an enlarged thyroid (goiter)

There might not be any symptoms if the goiter is not severe. The goiter may cause one or more of the following symptoms if it grows large enough, depending on the size:

  • swelling/tightness in the neck
  • breathing and/or swallowing difficulties
  • coughing or wheezing

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