The thyroid gland is the small, butterfly-shaped organ found at the base of the neck. It is part of the endocrine system responsible for releasing hormones that control the body’s metabolism. It is an important part of how the body processes energy.
The hormones produced by the gland play a vital role in several functions of the body including breathing, heart rate, menstrual cycle, body temperature, muscle strength, and certain functions in the central and peripheral nervous system.
According to the American Thyroid Association, over 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition in the course of their lifetime. It is estimated that about 20 million Americans have thyroid disease. Some of the most common thyroid issues in the country include:
Also called as underactive thyroid gland, hypothyroidism happens when there is insufficient production of the thyroid hormone.
There are several possible causes of this thyroid condition including Hashimoto’s disease, radiation therapy to the neck area, thyroid surgery, and use of certain medications such as drugs used for heart conditions and mental health problems.
People with hypothyroidism may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, constipation, fatigue, greater sensitivity to the cold, dry skin, unexplained weight loss, and slow heart rate.
Hyperthyroidism happens when there is too much production of thyroid hormone. It is also known as an overactive thyroid.
Grave’s Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. Grave’s Disease hereditary and is more common in women than in men.
Growth of nodules or lumps in the thyroid gland may also lead to hyperthyroidism. These lumps can grow overtime, elevating the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood.
Because the thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism, certain body functions of people with hyperthyroidism tend to speed up. They may experience irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, diarrhea, fatigue, and for women, a disruption in menstrual cycle.
Thyroid nodules refer to fluid-filled lumps that form within the thyroid. They may develop as a result of an iron deficiency, or thyroid issues such as thyroid cancer and chronic thyroid inflammation.
Most thyroid nodules don’t produce any signs or symptoms but for others that are large enough, they can be felt and at times, may cause difficulty in breathing.
Thyroid problems can often be resolved with medication, but when medication isn’t enough, there are surgical options. Premier Surgical of Knoxville has a team of endocrine system experts who provide surgical solutions for serious cases of thyroid problems and cancers. If you believe you are suffering from a thyroid issue, it may be time to speak with your physician.