Do you know the thyroid diseases and conditions that tend to cause thyroid problems? We discover what disorders affect this very important endocrine gland.
The thyroid is a gland that is located in the neck, just above the clavicle and in front of the trachea, which has a curious shape reminiscent of a butterfly. It is an endocrine gland, whose main function is to produce hormones. In this case, the thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in our body, such as how fast our heart beats or how fast we burn calories.
It has two side “lobes” joined by a narrow strip of fabric. In most cases, it is not possible to feel or see the thyroid gland. However, when some thyroid problems occur, such as certain thyroid conditions or diseases, it is possible to observe a lump in this area of the neck, especially if it increases in size.
As stated by many doctors and health specialists, thyroid problems increase especially after 40 years of age, and tend to be more frequent in women than in men. In fact, it is estimated that they are between 8 and 10 times more frequent in women.
What are the main thyroid problems?
There are several conditions, diseases and problems that can affect the thyroid directly, which mean that they influence its malfunction, producing not only certain symptoms that can help recognize thyroid problems in themselves, but also problems of health. The most common are the following:
It occurs when the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than our body actually needs, producing an acceleration of metabolism. It is more common in women and in people over 60 years of age, appearing in turn especially in those people who have thyroid problems.
Among the most common causes we can mention: excessive consumption of iodine or synthetic thyroid hormone, presence of thyroid nodules, thyroiditis and Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disorder).
On this occasion, the opposite occurs with hyperthyroidism: it occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which slows down metabolism.
It tends to be more common than hyperthyroidism, so hypothyroidism is more common in people with Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder), people over the age of 60, women, and people with thyroid problems (for example, in case of thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism) or surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid.
It consists of the increase in the size of the thyroid gland, which in turn can cause various discomforts and health problems such as difficulty swallowing and breathing, cough and hoarseness.
There are different causes that can cause an increase in the size of the thyroid, from the existence of an iodine deficiency to an inflammation of the thyroid due to thyroiditis or infections, passing through some autoimmune thyroid disease, tumors (benign and malignant), congenital alterations or infiltrative diseases.
Thyroiditis is swelling or inflammation of the thyroid. Its causes are actually very varied: caused by drugs, by bacteria or other infectious organisms, by radiation, by antibodies that attack the thyroid after childbirth (after pregnancy), hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, by viral infection or by Hashimoto’s disease.
There are several diseases that can affect the thyroid in an autoimmune way. Basically there are two:
- Graves’ disease: it is the most common autoimmune disease, being in turn the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is mainly due to an abnormal response of the immune system that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.
- Hashimoto’s disease: is a disease in which the immune system begins to attack the thyroid gland, causing it to become swollen and irritated so that it cannot produce hormones normally.