Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism are the most common thyroid disorders, of which hypothyroidism is much more common. These disorders are eight times more common in women than in men and their incidence increases with age. However, endocrinology clinics are also visited by large numbers of male patients, who often have more severe forms of thyroid disease (perhaps see a doctor only when it is really necessary).
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland, shaped like a butterfly, is located at the bottom of the neck in front of the trachea. The thyroid gland controls our metabolism through two hormones that it produces – thyroxine (known as T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Thyroid hormones significantly affect the metabolism of all nutrients (sugars, fats and proteins), interfere with the body’s energy balance (increase energy expenditure) and their adequate amount is necessary for the proper functioning of all organs and tissues of the body throughout life. During the intrauterine development of the embryo and fetus, as well as after birth, they are absolutely essential for the development of the brain .
When the thyroid gland does not produce the right amount of hormones, the first problems appear. If your thyroid gland is less active , then it also produces fewer hormones, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism . People with hypothyroidism use energy more slowly and their metabolism is also slowed down.
If your thyroid gland is too active , then it releases too many hormones into your bloodstream, leading to a condition called hyperthyroidism .This condition speeds up the metabolism .
Reduced Thyroid Activity (Hypothyreosis)
Hypothyroidism may be congenital or occur during life.
Congenital hypothyroidism is a serious disease, but its early detection and treatment will prevent irreversible developmental disorders in the newborn. That is why the mother’s adequate supply of iodine and the normal function of the mother’s thyroid gland during pregnancy are so important.
The most common cause of acquired hypothyroidism in our country is chronic inflammation. Other causes are less common.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
- muscle weakness
- cold and dry skin
- Hair Loss
- slowing of heart activity
- menstrual disorders
- memory failure
The essence of the treatment of hypothyroidism is the delivery of the missing hormone to the body in the form of tablets . Treatment is usually lifelong and you need to take the medication even if you feel well.
If the disease is diagnosed in time and treated correctly, it leaves no consequences , all symptoms are completely corrected and the disease does not shorten life.
Remember that your symptoms will not start to subside until after a few weeks of treatment.
Enhanced thyroid function (Hyperthyreosis)
Increased gland function is more common in younger women ,when there is an increased concentration of the hormone thyroxine in the body . It is a so-called autoimmune disease (it is caused by antibodies in the body).
Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by an autonomic (toxic) benign thyroid tumor (adenoma).
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
- rapid heartbeat and heart rhythm disorders (most commonly atrial fibrillation)
- heat intolerance
- loss of muscle mass and muscle weakness
- the skin is soft, often warmly sweaty
- the hair is of poor quality, fine, it is thinning
- weight loss, but also feelings of hunger to the so-called “wolf hunger” (may be the cause of weight gain)
- in women, menstrual irregularities and fertility disorders
- in men impotence
- burning, cutting and tearing of the eyes, pain behind the eyes and bulging to “rounded” eyes.
The treatment of hyperthyroidism varies in part according to the cause and belongs exclusively to the endocrinologist. It is used to administer drugs that aim to achieve normal thyroid function as quickly as possible.
In this case, drugs that reduce the production of thyroid hormones and complementary drugs that block the negative effect of thyroid hormone on the heart and calm the heart, so-called beta-blockers, are given.
In the case of autoimmune hyperthyroidism, the increased activity of the thyroid gland is usually calmed by the administration of drugs within a few months. If sedation does not occur even during long-term treatment ,it is usually necessary to proceed to some form of definitive solution (i.e. surgery or radioiodine treatment).
Thyroid gland during life
The development and behavior of the baby is affected before birth by the proper function of the mother’s thyroid gland during pregnancy. The fetus first uses the mother’s thyroid gland, only later does it create its own, which is supplied by the mother’s body. For the proper development of the child’s brain structures, it is essential that the mother has enough thyroid hormones, but also iodine. A child with an insufficient supply of thyroid hormones or iodine during pregnancy appears healthy at birth, however, during his upbringing, concentration disorders, syndromes of hyperactivity, etc. may occur.
Newborns are tested for congenital thyroid disorders between 48 and 72 hours after birth in a maternity hospital by taking blood. Even after birth, the supply of iodine is important, so it is recommended that breastfeeding mothers take vitamins with iodine or iodine itself. Iodine is still necessary for the production of hormones important for the development of the brain, in the absence of it can later occur disorders of the psyche, attention, concentration, adaptability, etc. As a result, there is a risk of problems with learning and subsequent poor performance at school. If the thyroid gland works insufficiently from an early childhood, the child’s development is impaired. If the impaired activity of the thyroid gland is not addressed, it leads to cretinism.
The period of puberty, when the hormonal system should be relatively complex, will show how the system of endocrine glands works. If puberty does not start in the usual period between 12 and 15 years of age (for example, girls do not menstruate), something is wrong. This can be one of the symptoms of thyroid disease and a reason to consult a general practitioner, who will have the level of TSH determined to detect possible thyroid dysfunction.
The first pregnancy
Sufficient thyroid hormones have an effect on the pregnancy itself, because reduced thyroid activity can prevent ovulation (egg flushing) or lead to menstrual failure as such. Untreated hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism of the pregnant mother is a serious disease that can cause complications of pregnancy, fetal developmental disorders, as well as miscarriage or premature birth.
The insidiousness of menopause lies, among other things, in the fact that its symptoms overlap with the symptoms of thyroid disorders, which are not given due attention. Fatigue, depressed moods and weight gain can be associated with thyroid disease and can be easily relieved by appropriate treatment. A proactive approach is in place to diagnose the cause of the problem as soon as possible and treat it properly.
Today, people live to a much longer age and higher stages of aging than before, while they want to stay active for as long as possible, both physically and mentally. However, with increasing age, various diseases also increase, thanks to which the symptoms of thyroid disorders are easily overlooked. Or, problems associated with thyroid disease lead to aging. But treatment is important because it is related to overall health and quality of life. If left untreated, a critical or life-threatening condition can occur.