Before delving into the various types of thyroid disorders, it is important to understand the umbrella term – thyroid disorders. Certain medical conditions that affect either the structure or the functioning of the thyroid gland are called thyroid disorders.
Now, what causes thyroid disorders? As discussed in our previous blog post, the thyroid gland produces hormones that are essential for the development of the human body. Iodine is used by the gland to generate these vital hormones and a deficiency of iodine can, therefore, cause the thyroid gland to dysfunction. Other causes include:
Autoimmune diseases that occur when one’s immune system attacks one’s own body;
- Enlargement of the thyroid caused by a virus or bacteria;
- Cancerous or non-cancerous lumps in the thyroid;
- Medical procedures like radiation therapy;
- Genetic predispositions;
- In rare cases, pregnancy.
Some of the common types of thyroid disorders are:
A person is diagnosed with hypothyroidism when their thyroid gland fails to produce a sufficient amount of hormones. Problems within the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, or hypothalamus can cause hypothyroidism. Common symptoms include fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to cold temperatures, weight gain, depressive feelings, pain in muscles/joints, irregular menstrual cycle (for women), dry skin, and impaired cognition.
An autoimmune disease that leads to the inflammation of the thyroid gland. This disease is the leading cause of Hypothyroidism in many countries. Individuals diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis display symptoms similar to those diagnosed with Hypothyroidism with a few additions like- puffy face, brittle nails, hair loss, and inflammation of the tongue.
HyperthyroidismHyperthyroidism is described as a condition wherein the thyroid produces hormones in excessive quantities. This leads to a rapid increase in the metabolism rate. A patient diagnosed with hyperthyroidism is likely to experience tremors, weight loss, bouts of nervousness, increased sweating, bowel movements, and heart rate, and sensitivity to heat.
- Graves’ Disease is the most common cause of Hyperthyroidism. An individual is diagnosed with it when their immune system produces antibodies, known as, thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins which stick to thyroid cells and cause them to release more thyroid hormones than required. Symptoms are the same as those of Hyperthyroidism.
In simple words, a goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland. It can be associated with any thyroid disease or a lack of iodine. Individuals are said to have a goiter if the front of their neck or neck vein is swollen, they develop a scratchy voice, feel tightness in their throat area, or feel dizzy when raising their arms above their head.
Thyroid nodules, or lumps in the thyroid gland can develop due to benign cysts or benign tumors, and can also cause thyroid cancer. It is widely believed that children and adolescents do not have thyroid nodules and that thyroid cancer majorly affects only the adult population.