There are several different problems that could develop in the thyroid gland. These include Underactive Thyroid (hypothyroidism), Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), Goiter – an enlarged thyroid usually visible as a swelling on the neck just under the Adam’s apple, Thyroid nodules – lumps in the thyroid gland, Thyroid cancer – malignant, or Thyroiditis – inflamed thyroid.
The most common of these are the underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and the overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
There is no definitive cause of thyroid disorders. Research has shown that there are several factors that could make someone predisposed to having a thyroid disorder.
Some of these factors for hypothyroidism include: sex – affects more women than men; family history – previous thyroid disorders would make you predisposed to another attack; age – people of between the ages of 21-45 are most likely to suffer from an overactive thyroid; smoking – smokers are more resistant to treatment; over medication with underactive thyroid treatment – either accidentally or intentionally. The list doesn’t end there, but it does give you an idea of the different groups that could be more likely to develop a thyroid disorder.
Developing a thyroid disorder such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter and thyroid nodules is unpleasant but it need not disrupt your life. Properly treated and managed, a thyroid disorder is simply a minor inconvenience. However, if not diagnosed and treated, a thyroid disorder could develop into a life threatening situation.
Thyroid cancer may not cause any symptoms at all in the early stages but as it progresses symptoms would develop. The symptoms of thyroid cancer include pain around the thyroid area, swelling around the thyroid area, a hoarse voice and difficulty speaking in a normal tone and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Most thyroid cancers are benign (non malignant) and after treatment would cause no further problems. However, malignant thyroid cancer requires a much more aggressive approach and would probably require all or a part of the thyroid to be removed. After successful surgery for thyroid cancer, the patient would need to take a thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of their life.
So, early diagnosis is recommended for anyone who suspects they have developed a thyroid disorder. A simple visit to the doctor who will take a blood sample and send it to a laboratory for testing is all that is required to diagnose the type of thyroid problem. Once the type of thyroid disorder is diagnosed, treatment will be discussed with the patient. This is usually in the form of a thyroid hormone replacement medication which will correct any deficiency of the thyroid hormone or, in the case of an overactive thyroid; an anti-thyroid drug to reduce the amount of the hormone is usually all that is required.
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