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Thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorders: Introduction

Thyroid disorders are common disorders of the thyroid gland. Thyroid disorders include such diseases and conditions as Graves' disease, thyroid nodules, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, trauma to the thyroid, thyroid cancer and birth defects. These include being born with a defective thyroid gland or without a thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck, and the thyroid hormone it produces is vital to normal metabolism. Thyroid disorders can cause the thyroid gland to become overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism). Thyroid disorders are most often due to autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

The most common thyroid disorders that result in hyperthyroidism include thyroid nodules and Graves' disease. These thyroid disorders lead to overstimulation of the thyroid gland and increased production of thyroid hormone. Increased production of thyroid hormone in these thyroid disorder results in a stimulation or quickening of the body's metabolism and symptoms, such as nervousness, anxiety and hypertension.

Thyroid disorders that result in hypothyroidism include Hashimoto's thyroiditis and birth defects of the thyroid gland. These thyroid disorders result in decreased production or a total lack of production of thyroid hormone. These thyroid disorders result in a slowing of the body's chemical processes and metabolism and symptoms, such as weight gain, fatigue and depression.

Thyroid disorders may also lead to serious, potentially life-threatening complications. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of thyroid disorders.

Thyroid disorders are more common in women than in men. Hashimoto's thyroiditis occurs most often in females between the ages of 30 and 50 years and appears to have a genetic component because it can run in families. People over the age of fifty who have hypertension or atherosclerosis are at risk for hyperthyroidism.

Making a diagnosis of thyroid disorders begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A physician or health care provider may feel a smaller or larger than normal thyroid gland in the neck upon exam.

A blood test is performed to determine levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and the thyroid hormone thyroxine. High levels of TSH and low levels of thyroxine reveal that the thyroid gland is underactive. This may indicate a diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis or other diseases or conditions that cause hypothyroidism.

Low levels of TSH and high levels of thyroxine reveal that a thyroid gland is overactive. This may indicate a diagnosis of Graves' disease or other disease or conditions that cause hyperthyroidism.

Other tests may be performed to check for potential complications of thyroid disorders, such as heart disease. These can include blood tests that can reveal hypercholesterolemia, increased liver enzymes, or anemia. A chest X-ray may be done to evaluate the size of the heart.

It is possible that a diagnosis of thyroid disorders can be missed or delayed because early symptoms can be mild or assumed to be associated with other conditions, such as excessive caffeine use, angina, aging or stress. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of thyroid disorders.

Treatment of thyroid disorders varies depending on the specific type of thyroid disorder. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of thyroid disorders. ...more »

Thyroid disorders: The thyroid gland produces various hormones used by the body and thyroid disorders cause various symptoms. The two main types are hypothyroidism (too little hormone) such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) such as Graves' disease. Both conditions can be difficult to diagnose because they product relatively mild symptoms. Hence, thyroid disorders are often misdiagnosed as depression, aging, or other causes of tiredness, fatigue, or forgetfulness. Therefore, a thyroid disorder is a possibility that must be ruled out in diagnoses of conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, lupus, sleep disorders, and various other conditions. Fortunately, diagnosis of thyroid problems is relatively specific by blood tests of thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid disorders are treatable, but can be serious if untreated, so any suspicion of thyroid problems needs to be confirmed promptly by a doctor. ...more »

Thyroid disorders: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of thyroid disorders vary between individuals and are very different depending on cause and if they result in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

At the onset of hypothyroidism, the symptoms can be vague and develop slowly. They may include weakness, weight gain, cold sensitivity, cold hands and feet, fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails, and ...more symptoms »

Thyroid disorders: Treatments

There is usually no way to prevent thyroid disorders. However, with recognition and treatment, low levels or high levels of thyroid hormone can be returned to normal levels in the body. Treatments vary depending on the type of thyroid disorder, a patient's age and medical history and individual factors.

Hypothyroidism cannot be cured, and people with the ...more treatments »

Thyroid disorders: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of a thyroid disorder may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as nervousness, irritability fatigue, weight gain, muscle aches and weakness can be ambiguous and/or mild. These symptoms can be easily attributed to other conditions, such as excessive coffee drinking, aging, stress, excessive exercise, lack of exercise, perimenopause, cold ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Thyroid disorders

Treatments for Thyroid disorders

  • Treatment of thyroid disorders depends upon the underlying cause of the problem, whether the patient is hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, the severity of symptoms, and the age and other health problems that the patient might have. Treatments include:
    • Hypothyroidism
      • Observation - mild abnormalities may resolve without therapy over a few months and tests should be repeated to monitor
      • Cessation of drugs that may be causing the problem - eg lithium, amiodarone
      • Iodine - for cases associated with iodine deficiency
  • more treatments...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Thyroid disorders:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Thyroid disorders?

Thyroid disorders: Related Patient Stories

Thyroid disorders: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Thyroid disorders.

Types of Thyroid disorders

Curable Types of Thyroid disorders

Possibly curable types of Thyroid disorders include:

Rare Types of Thyroid disorders:

Rare types of Thyroid disorders include:

Thyroid disorders: Complications

Read more about complications of Thyroid disorders.

Causes of Thyroid disorders

Read more about causes of Thyroid disorders.

More information about causes of Thyroid disorders:

Disease Topics Related To Thyroid disorders

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Thyroid disorders:

Thyroid disorders: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Thyroid disorders

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Thyroid disorders greatly under-diagnosed: One study found that about 10% of people had undiagnosed thyroid disorders, mostly hyperthyroidism, but...read more »

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Thyroid disorders: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Thyroid disorders

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Thyroid disorders:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Thyroid disorders, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Thyroid disorders: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Thyroid disorders

Medical research articles related to Thyroid disorders include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Research about Thyroid disorders

Visit our research pages for current research about Thyroid disorders treatments.

Clinical Trials for Thyroid disorders

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Thyroid disorders include:

Statistics for Thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorders: Broader Related Topics

Thyroid disorders Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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