Thyroid Diseases

Jan 26, 2022

Table of contents

30 Second Summary

  • The thyroid gland is a small gland that secretes the hormones T3 and T4, which regulate body metabolism.
  • Under- or over-secretion of thyroid hormones causes thyroid diseases.
  • The most common symptoms include weight loss, weight gain, fatigue, irritability, skin changes and heart palpitations.
  • Benign thyroid diseases include goiter, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

What are Thyroid Diseases?

The thyroid gland, a gland weighing approximately 25-40 grams located in the anterior part of the trachea in human anatomy, is a tissue that has very important functions in human life with this small size. Among the most basic tasks of the thyroid gland is the secretion of T3 and T4 hormones that regulate body metabolism.

The thyroid gland must achieve absolute balance when secreting T3, T4 and other hormones. Because with hormone secretion less or more than normal, all organs in the body may work faster or slower.

The thyroid gland actually regulates its functioning thanks to Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is an order hormone coming from the pituitary gland. While it secretes T3 and T4 hormones through the work it does thanks to TSH, these hormones regulate metabolism, especially the functioning of the immune system. While the development of the child in the womb has an effect on many different points such as the regulation of sugar, fat and protein metabolism in the body in adulthood, heartbeat and body temperature, irregularity causes thyroid diseases.

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Diseases?

In disorders that may occur with excessive or very low secretion of T3 and T4 hormones by the thyroid gland, it is possible to encounter dozens of symptoms that can be counted with a very large list. Symptoms that can be counted in general include the low secretion of hormones (hypothyroidism) while these symptoms occur with the disorder;

  • Hypertension
  • Moisturizing the skin
  • Increased tremor in the hands
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Menstrual problems in women
  • Intolerance to hot weather
  • Weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive sweating
  • Intense heart palpitations
  • Frequently irritable
  • Hair loss and weakening
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Forgetfulness
  • Sexual reluctance and poor performance
  • Depression
  • Voice disorder
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Extreme cold
  • Shortness of breath may be present.

On the other hand, as it is known, when we look at the symptoms that may occur with excessive secretion of hormones (hyperthyroidism), the opposite of all these symptoms may occur. This can lead to weight gain, dry skin, lack of sweating, too much stagnation or too low blood pressure. There are also symptoms such as constipation, cessation of menstruation or edema in women.

What Causes Thyroid Diseases?

Iodine deficiency and genetic predisposition are among the most important causes of diseases that can be encountered in the thyroid gland. While iodine deficiency, which should be especially emphasized, causes troublesome conditions in the thyroid gland, it is seen that iodine consumption is low in our country.

When hypothyroidism is taken into account; inflammation of the thyroid gland, encountering hashimoto' s thyroid, iodine deficiency, thyroid gland not working since birth or postpartum thyroid can cause diseases.

When looking at the causes that may be behind hyperthyroidism, problems such as thyroid nodules, iodine excess, groves disease and thyroiditis can be seen as causes of the disease.

Types of Thyroid Disease

Thyroid gland diseases are divided into benign and malignant thyroid diseases depending on their structure and symptoms. At this point, benign diseases include disorders caused by low or high functioning of the thyroid gland or changes in its shape. In the category of malignant thyroid diseases, there are diseases in which cancerous tissues form in the cells of the thyroid gland.

Benign Thyroid Diseases

Benign thyroid diseases include hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, as well as goiter. To briefly mention these disorders;

  • Hypothyroidism, as it is known, is a type of disorder that occurs with low secretion of hormones secreted by the thyroid gland, especially T3 and T4 hormones.
  • In the case of hyperthyroidism, on the contrary, T3 and T4 hormones and other hormones are secreted more than needed. As a result, functions at many different points, such as the heart or the immune system, become faster, while problems arise in the body's development and metabolic activities.

Thyroiditis, which is among the causes of hypothyroidism, can also be considered a different thyroid disease. Although it is usually a type of non-microbial inflammation, its types include bacterial acute suppurative thyroiditis, viral subacute thyroiditis, postpartum painless thyroiditis and the most common type of autoimmune hasimoto's thyroiditis.

  • The disease called goiter is the first type of disease that comes to mind when it comes to thyroid disease. However, goiter, as one of the benign types of thyroid diseases, is the enlargement of the thyroid gland to a greater degree than desired. Within the scope of this disease, one or more lumps may form in the thyroid gland in the nodular goiter type. In goiter types called nodule-free goiter, the thyroid gland grows symmetrically on both sides and has a smooth and soft surface.

Malignant Thyroid Diseases

Although there are many different types of malignant thyroid diseases, each of these types is collectively referred to as thyroid cancer. While this cancer is divided into four types, the two most important types are known as papillary and follicular thyroid cancers.

Who Has Thyroid? Who is at Risk?

Thyroid diseases can occur in men and women regardless of age group. However, although it has been found to occur at a higher rate in women than in men, it has been determined that thyroid gland diseases sometimes occur in people with conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Turner syndrome, pernicious anemia or primary renal failure.

Thyroid diseases in general;

  • People taking medicines with high iodine content,
  • People with a history of thyroiditis or cancer,
  • Women over 60 years of age,
  • People with iodine deficiency,
  • Consumption of non-iodized salt,
  • At points of radiation exposure
  • It is stated that it is more common in people with genetic predisposition.

Treatment Methods in Thyroid Diseases

When hormone tests are performed regularly depending on the complaints in people who show symptoms of thyroid diseases and are at risk, early diagnosis of diseases can be provided. If the patient has nodule formation, the disease can be diagnosed with imaging tests such as ultrasound after examinations by the endocrinology department. Accordingly, it is possible to try different treatment methods for thyroid diseases.

Depending on the type of the disease, drug treatments are applied according to the values obtained as a result of blood tests for the treatment of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism as expressed. In addition, in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine treatment may be required after stabilization of hormone production has been achieved.

In the treatment of nodular goiter and goiter without nodules, depending on the type of goiter, sometimes thyroid hormone therapy is used to prevent the development of nodules and sometimes surgical methods are used to treat progressive nodules. If the patient has nodule enlargement, surgical methods may be preferred after determination by needle biopsy. Surgery may be considered, especially if patients have stenosis of the trachea and esophagus and difficulty swallowing.

Iodine (Atom) Therapy

Iodine therapy is preferred in patients with hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland is overactive, and in patients who need iodine after cancer surgery. Radioactive iodine is taken into the body by absorption in the stomach and intestinal system, respectively, after being taken orally. In this way, when thyroid cells absorb iodine, their functioning is stabilized.

Iodine, given to the body through medication, stops the growth of the thyroid glands and is therefore often preferred in goiter. In low-dose radioactive iodine treatment, the patient should be prepared with a nutrition plan for a few days, discontinue the use of medication for a while and the application should be performed in a hospital environment.

In iodine therapy, patients should especially avoid seafood, fish and carbonated drinks before treatment. While side effects such as nausea are very rarely seen during the treatment process, results are achieved in the treatment thanks to plenty of water consumption and rest afterwards.

Thyroid Surgery

In nodules and cancers that develop in the thyroid gland due to goiter, thyroid surgery is performed depending on how the disease has developed. In some patients the nodule may be on one side and in others on both sides. In these surgeries, called thyroidectomy, the thyroid is removed, the gland on one side or both sides is removed and the lymph nodes are also removed.

It is very important not to damage the vocal cords in these surgeries, which can be performed by a specialized team. Although it is possible to experience hoarseness in the vocal cords for a while after the surgery, new technologies can provide a solution to this problem when a permanent problem occurs. Especially today, the "Nerve Monitoring Technique" used during surgery can prevent damage to the vocal cords.

Thyroid surgery has a structure that can be applied in different institutions in every city today. In this respect, the price of thyroid surgery may vary depending on the institutions and physicians you choose in the region you live in or in different cities.

Summary of Surgery

Duration of Surgery 1-3 hours

Anesthesia Method: General

Hospitalization Duration: 1-2 Days

Return to Work Period: 1-2 Weeks

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