Thyroid disorders and neck cancer

Thyroid is a gland situated at the back below the Adam’s apple.  T 3 and T 4 are the main hormones produced by thyroid glands. Thyroid hormones control activities of our body known as body’s metabolism which include the rate of burning of calories and the rate of heart beat.

Hyperthyroidism: When thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormones than that are necessary for the body due to some disorders of the thyroid gland it is known as hyperthyroidism.  Graves’ disease which prompts the thyroid gland to produce more hormones is the main cause for the hypothyroid disorder.  Thyroid nodules can also cause t production of excess thyroid hormones. Rapid heartbeat, eating more food, weight loss, anxiety, sleeping problems, weakness of muscles, menstrual problems etc are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Treatment for hyperthyroidism is based on the severity of the disease and the symptoms of the disease shown by the patient. Your doctor may prescribe you antithyroid medicines which will help in decreasing the production of thyroid hormones. Radioiodine can help to destroy the thyroid cells that are producing thyroid hormones. Your doctor may prescribe you higher dose of different types of radioiodine than used in thyroid scan. Beta blockers are medicines that are given to the patient for reducing the effects of overproduction of thyroid hormones till other forms of treatment takes effect.

Hypothyroidism:  When thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones it is known as hypothyroidism. It is also known as underactive thyroid. A disease known as Hashimoto’s disease in which the immune system of our body attacks the thyroid system by mistake is the main cause for hypothyroidism. In addition to the symptoms detailed above for hyper thyroidism puffy face, hoarse voice and dry skin are additional symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is treated by medications which help to increase the production of T 3 and T 4 hormones. Patients with hypothyroidism will have to take medications throughout their life so that the problems caused by insufficient production of T 3 and T 4 hormones will not cause any problems.

Thyroid nodules: Swelling found in the thyroid gland in the form of solid mass or filled with fluid or blood is known as thyroid nodules. Thyroid nodules are generally asymptotic. In rare cased thyroid nodules may grow in size and cause problems in breathing and swallowing. If the nodule is non cancerous, then your doctor may ask you to wait for some time and see whether it will cure on its own. If it is not vanishing over a period of time, then your doctor may make use of radioiodine treatment for promoting the production of extra hormones. Alcohol injection has been found to be very useful in shrinking the nodules. If none of these methods yield satisfactory results, then your doctor may opt for the surgical removal of the nodule even if it is non cancerous.

Thyroid cancer: It is possible that people with thyroid nodules may be having thyroid cancer also. Thyroid cancer is very rare compared to other cancers.  Thyroid cancer is generally seen in people who are above 40 years of age and those who have a family history of thyroid cancer. Radioiodine treatment has been found to be extremely useful in destroying cancerous cells without causing any damage to other healthy tissues.  Another option is to remove all or part of the thyroid gland through surgical methods.

Goiter: Abnormal growth of thyroid gland caused mainly due to iodine deficiency is known as goiter. Swelling in the neck is the symptom of goiter. If the swelling in the neck is too big it may cause difficulty in breathing and swallowing. Having a large swelling in your neck need not cause you any problem in the production of the required quantity of thyroid hormones. Goiter may increase or decrease the production of thyroid hormone depending on the cause of the goiter. Blood test, iodine uptake test, biopsy, thyroid scans etc are the diagnostic procedures used for diagnosing goiter. If goiter is caused due to low iodine level, then giving iodine supplement will be the best method of treatment. Giving radioiodine to shrink the goiter and surgical removal of the entire goiter or a part of the goiter are the other treatment options.


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