Reflecting the beautiful shape of a butterfly, the thyroid gland in our neck helps regulate our metabolism and growth. Two of the most common thyroid diseases are caused by having too much or too little of thyroid hormones called hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism results from the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Common symptoms include excessive sweating, increased bowel movements, anxiety, weakness and irregular menstrual flow. Methods to treat this disease are listed below.
- Medications including propylthiouracil and methimazole can gradually reduce symptoms by preventing the thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of hormones.
- Beta Blockers are used to combat high blood pressure but not thyroid levels. They are meant to reduce symptoms of rapid heart rate and palpitations until other forms of treatment take effect.
- Consuming radioactive iodine allows the gland to shrink and reduces hyperthyroidism symptoms. It is generally known as the safer treatment, although it causes a slowdown of the hormones (hypothyroidism) and medication is needed to replace the thyroxine hormone.
- A thyroidectomy is a surgical option where a doctor removes most of the thyroid gland. Risks include damage to vocal cords.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Women older than 60 are more likely to experience hypothyroidism. Common symptoms include fatigue, constipation, dry skin, depression, puffy face and impaired memory. Methods for treating hypothyroidism are listed below.
- Levothyroxine is an oral medication used to replace the hormone that your thyroid can no longer make.
- Other treatment options include natural extracts of hormones from the thyroid glands of pigs. The extracts are available by prescription only.
Thyroid cancer is typically identified early and, once treated, rarely returns. For more information about thyroid problems, talk with your doctor.
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