Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism.

Thyroid problems include

  • Goiter - enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism - when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs
  • Hypothyroidism - when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodules - lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroiditis - swelling of the thyroid

To diagnose thyroid diseases, doctors use a medical history, physical exam, and thyroid tests. They sometimes also use a biopsy. Treatment depends on the problem, but may include medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Symptoms of Thyroid Diseases

The following features are indicative of Thyroid Diseases:
  • sudden weight loss
  • rapid heartbeat
  • increased appetite
  • sweating
  • changes in menstrual patterns
  • increased sensitivity to heat
  • changes in bowel patterns
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin thinning
  • brittle hair
  • lump that can be felt through the skin on neck
  • changes to voice
  • increasing hoarseness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pain in neck and throat
  • swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • weight gain
  • puffy face
  • cold intolerance
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • fertility problems
  • depression
  • slowed heart rate
It is possible that Thyroid Diseases shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Thyroid Diseases

The following are the most common causes of Thyroid Diseases:
  • Graves' disease
  • toxic adenoma
  • plummer's disease
  • thyroiditis
  • DNA mutations
  • autoimmune disease

Other Causes of Thyroid Diseases

The following are the less common causes of Thyroid Diseases:
  • exposure to radiation therapy while cancer treatment
  • radiation exposure from nuclear plant disasters
  • hyperthyroidism
  • thyroid surgery
  • pregnancy
  • iodine deficiency

Risk Factors for Thyroid Diseases

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Thyroid Diseases:
  • hereditary presence
  • being female
  • exposure to high levels of radiation
  • familial medullary thyroid cancer
  • multiple endocrine neoplasia
  • congenital disease
  • pituitary disorder
  • woman older than age 60
  • autoimmune disease
  • family history of thyroid disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • treated with antithyroid medications or radioactive iodine
  • thyroid surgery
  • pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

Prevention of Thyroid Diseases

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Thyroid Diseases. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • get enough calcium and vitamin D
  • removing all or most of the thyroid
  • take precautions before living near nuclear power plants
  • add iodine to commonly used foods

Occurrence of Thyroid Diseases

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Thyroid Diseases cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Thyroid Diseases most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Thyroid Diseases can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Thyroid Diseases

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Thyroid Diseases:
  • Blood test: To measure the levels of thyroxine and TSH in the blood
  • Radio iodine uptake test: To determine how much iodine the thyroid gland has absorbed
  • Thyroid scan: To produce image of the thyroid gland on a computer screen
  • Physical exam: To look for physical changes in thyroid
  • Thyroid tissue biopsy: To look for cancer cells
  • Imaging tests: To help determine whether cancer has spread beyond the thyroid
  • Genetic testing: To look for genes that increase risk of cancer

Doctor for Diagnosis of Thyroid Diseases

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Thyroid Diseases:
  • Endocrinologist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Oncologist

Complications of Thyroid Diseases if untreated

Yes, Thyroid Diseases causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Thyroid Diseases is left untreated:
  • heart problems
  • brittle bones
  • eye problems
  • thyrotoxic crisis
  • recurrence of thyroid cancer
  • lymph nodes in the neck
  • small pieces of thyroid tissue
  • goitre
  • mental health issues
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • myxedema
  • infertility
  • birth defects

Procedures for Treatment of Thyroid Diseases

The following procedures are used to treat Thyroid Diseases:
  • Surgery: To remove all or most of the thyroid and lymph nodes in neck
  • Thyroid hormone therapy: To suppress the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from pituitary gland
  • External radiation therapy: To reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
  • Chemotherapy: To kill the cancer cells

Self-care for Thyroid Diseases

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Thyroid Diseases:
  • Weight management: Reduces the risk of disease
  • Regular exercise: Get regular exercise
  • Maintain healthy diet: Helps keeping body healthy
  • Get enough sleep: Helps feeling rested
  • Avoid dietary extremes

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Thyroid Diseases

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Thyroid Diseases:
  • Radioiodine therapy: Destroys the cells of the thyroid gland slowly
  • Massage therapy: Controls the thyroid hormone release
  • Practice yoga: Regulates the thyroid hormone secretion

Time for Treatment of Thyroid Diseases

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Thyroid Diseases to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Thyroid Diseases.
Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid Tests