The thyroid gland delivers hormones to the rest of the body for various functions, including regulating metabolism and providing energy. A disruption in the gland’s ability to disperse hormones properly can lead to symptoms and disease.
Some symptoms could be caused by other underlying problems, so it often takes time for the thyroid to be considered as the source. People who don’t find relief from their symptoms after recommended dietary changes or medication can ask for tests for possible thyroid issues.
Disorders of the thyroid develop from dietary deficiencies, injury or disease. A disruption in the release of hormones from the thyroid could be the result of an overactive or underactive thyroid.
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Hyperthyroidism causes too much of the thyroid hormone to flow through the body. The overactive thyroid can overstimulate cells and tissues in the body, causing symptoms such as hyperactivity and constant hunger. The disorder can also inflame tissues in the body.
The fast metabolism from hyperthyroidism can lead to feelings of anxiety. An overactive thyroid can result in physical reactions as well. Abnormal growth of the thyroid gland can produce a goiter, or bulge in the neck, which has been linked to hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism has the opposite effect. The underactive thyroid gland produces too little of the necessary hormone to help other cells in the body function. People who suffer from hypothyroidism might show signs of fatigue or depression. The condition can go unnoticed or not diagnosed for years because other possible causes are suspected.
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People with an underactive thyroid may have little appetite because the digestive process doesn’t work well, but they may also experience weight gain since the lack of hormones can’t regulate metabolism correctly. Newborns and infants are monitored carefully for signs of hypothyroidism, which could cause abnormal physical development and mental retardation if not treated immediately.
Some symptoms of thyroid problems may only be temporary, but thyroiditis causes abnormal function of the thyroid and inflammation of tissue. Patients need medical treatment to correct thyroiditis, which kills the thyroid cells that produce enough hormones.
Thyroid cancer stems from diseased thyroid nodules. Radiation treatment has been linked to cancerous growth in the thyroid gland years later. Fortunately, treatment is available, and the long-term survival rate is almost 100 percent for cancers that have not spread beyond the thyroid gland. Symptoms of thyroid cancer may involve enlarged lymph nodes, neck pain, and hoarseness. Although thyroid cancer can affect people of any age, people over age 30 and women are more likely to develop the disease.
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