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Common thyroid conditions you should know

Posted September 4

How much thought do you give your thyroid? The butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in your throat stores and produces hormones that affect virtually every organ in your body, so it’s worth some consideration. In fact, though you may not realize it, there’s a fair chance your thyroid is not working properly.

The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Of these, up to 60 percent are unaware that they have a thyroid condition. More than 12 percent of the people in the U.S. will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime.

Different thyroid conditions present themselves in unique ways and can have wide-ranging levels of risks and effects. Learning about the signs and symptoms of the most common thyroid disorders may help you recognize an issue and seek help to correct it.

Goiter

Essentially an enlargement of the thyroid gland, goiters can interfere with breathing or swallowing if they become large enough. Occasionally, they can indicate thyroid cancer. Symptoms include swelling at the base of your throat, a feeling of tightness inside your throat, recurring cough or ongoing hoarseness.

Your doctor can diagnose a goiter using one or more methods, including hormone or antibody testing, an ultrasound, a thyroid scan or a biopsy. Treatment-ranging from observation to medication to surgery-may vary depending on the size, symptoms and cause of the goiter.

Grave's Disease

Grave's is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to produce too much thyroid hormone. It can cause goiters, mild to severe eye problems and thickening of the skin. Symptoms can include weight loss, anxiety and irritability, palpitations and shortness of breath, muscle weakness and bulging eyes, and more.

Your doctor can perform blood tests as well as scans to diagnose this disorder. The most common treatment is antithyroid medication. Other options include radioactive iodine therapy and surgery.

Hashimoto's Disease

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, Hashimoto's causes inflammation of the thyroid and often leads to an underactive thyroid gland. Left untreated, the disease can cause goiters, heart problems, mental health issues and a rare, life-threatening condition called myxedema.

Symptoms include unwarranted fatigue, dry skin, a pale, puffy face and constipation. Your doctor can perform hormone or antibody testing for a diagnosis. Synthetic hormone replacement is the primary treatment for the disease.

Hyperthyroidism

When the thyroid gland is overactive, the increased thyroid hormone causes the body's function to speed up. People with hyperthyroidism may feel nervous, anxious and irritable with tremors and heart palpitations, brittle hair and thin skin. Left untreated, it can cause osteoporosis and heart-related complications.

Blood tests and scans can help diagnose this disorder. Antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine therapy and surgery may be used to treat hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

Conversely, an underactive thyroid prevents the body from functioning normally. Hypothyroidism can lead to goiters, heart problems, mental health issues, peripheral neuropathy, infertility, birth defects and myxedema.

Seek help if you have unexplained weight gain or fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, facial puffiness, thinning hair or other related symptoms. Doctors can diagnose hypothyroidism with blood tests. Synthetic thyroid hormone is the standard treatment.

Thyroid Nodules

Unlike a goiter, a thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth of cells that forms a lump within the gland. While most nodules are benign, it is wise to have them evaluated, as they can contain cancer.

Nodules do not typically present symptoms. Your doctor should check your neck at regular examinations. If a nodule is suspected, an ultrasound, scan or fine needle biopsy can help diagnose it. Any suspicious nodules should be surgically removed, Others may be watched and reevaluated regularly.

Thyroid Cancer

There are four primary types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. Papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas are the least aggressive types and account for over 90 percent of all thyroid cancers. The five-year survival rate for people with thyroid cancer is 98 percent.

Early detection and treatment are important. Have any lumps in your neck checked by your doctor. Unexplained hoarseness, trouble swallowing or breathing, pain in the front of the neck or an unexplained, constant cough could also be cause for concern. A biopsy can help diagnose thyroid cancer. Surgery, radioactive iodine therapy and other forms of treatment may be used to treat it.

Flickr | com_salud

If you have any of these symptoms or other signs that you think might be related to a thyroid issue, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. Some simple testing and treatment could have you back on the road to feeling great again.

[h/t: Tip Hero]

This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.


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