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 »
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
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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:
- 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...»
Read more about treatments for Thyroid disorders
Home Diagnostic Testing
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Thyroid disorders?
Thyroid disorders: Related Patient Stories
Thyroid disorders: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Thyroid disorders.
Types of Thyroid disorders
See full list of 99
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
Undiagnosed causes of weight gain and obesity: Although obesity may be related to lifestyle issues,
there are also a number of medical causes of weight gain or obesity that may go undiagnosed.
Some of the various possibilities...read more »
Thyroid disorder misdiagnosed as anxiety disorder: The book "A Dose of Sanity" reports on a case
where as woman was diagnosed with panic disorder,...read more »
Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of
medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present
in a variety of different severities.
Diseases in this...read more »
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's,
whereas there are many other less severe...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a stroke or Alzheimer's...read more »
Rare type of breast cancer without a lump: There is a less common form
of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.
Its symptoms can be an...read more »
Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that
any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease.
The reality is that there are various possibilities,...read more »
Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's.
The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild symptoms in...read more »
Thyroid disorders greatly under-diagnosed: One study found that about 10% of people
had undiagnosed thyroid disorders, mostly hyperthyroidism, but also hypothyroidism.
The symptoms of thyroid disorders are often...read more »
Misdiagnosed weight-related causes of infertility: A woman's weight status
can affect her level of fertility.
Although obesity or overweight can in themselves reduce fertility, there are other
weight-related or associated...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Diabetes & Endocrinology Specialists:
- Pregnancy & Fertility Health Specialists:
- Womens Health Specialists:
- Immune-Related Disease Specialists (Immunology):
- Senior Health Specialists (Geriatrics):
- more specialists...»
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Hospitals & Clinics: Thyroid disorders
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for medical facilities in specialties related to Thyroid disorders:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
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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:
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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:
See full list of 66
Clinical Trials for Thyroid disorders
Statistics for Thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders: Broader Related Topics
Types of Thyroid disorders
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