The thyroid gland, a small, butterfly-shaped gland, which is located in the neck, plays an incredibly important role in regulating the body’s metabolism, but, when the thyroid gland fails to function properly, it can lead to a variety of health problems. This article will explore the causes, risks, and symptoms of thyroid disease.
In general an underactive thyroid is likely to be caused by the immune system attacking the gland itself and damaging it, but, it is possible for treatments for an overactive thyroid to cause hypothyroidism if excessive treatment is carried out, other causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Postpartum thyroiditis
- Iodine deficiency
- Non-functioning thyroid gland
Hyperthyroidism, in most cases, is caused by Grave’s disease, as this condition targets the immune system causing the gland to produce too much of the thyroid hormones, an overactive thyroid can also be caused by:
- Excessive Iodine
Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
Symptoms of Thyroid disease can vary significantly depending on whether the thyroid gland is overactive, or underactive. Common symptoms include:
- Anxiety, irritability, nervousness
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight changes
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular menstrual periods or the cycle stopping
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Vision problems or eye irritation
Risks of Thyroid Disease
If thyroid disease remains untreated it can lead to serious complications for the health of the individual. If an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is left without treatment, it can cause heart problems, goitre (abnormal swelling), pregnancy complications, and in very rare cases, myxoedema coma.
An untreated overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can develop complications such as eye problems, pregnancy issues, and weakened bones. In certain cases, it is possible to develop serious, life-threatening conditions, like heart failure, an abnormally fast or irregular heart rate, and a ‘thyroid storm’, which causes a rapid heartbeat, high temperatures, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Diagnosing Thyroid Disease
Thyroid disease is typically diagnosed through blood tests, these work by measuring the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood, to understand whether you thyroid gland is functioning properly.
Across all blood tests usually three main hormones are tested, Thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH), Thyroxine (T4), and Tri-iodothyronine (T3). Our blood tests include:
- Thyroid Hormone Blood Test (Full profile)
- Thyroid Hormone – Free Thyroxine (FT4)
- Thyroid Hormone – Free Triiodothyronine (FT3)
- Thyroid Function Test
If needed, to accurately diagnose thyroid problems, imaging tests such as an ultrasound or a physical examination through a biopsy may be required.
We can offer thyroid tests that are turned around the same day so you can know if you have normal thyroid functioning without having to wait days or even weeks for your results.
Can Stress Cause Thyroid Disease?
Stress can contribute to making thyroid disorder and disease symptoms worse, as it can slow the metabolism of the body down, however, it cannot cause Thyroid Disease directly.
Is Thyroid Disease Hereditary?
Thyroid disease is often hereditary, and certain conditions that can cause thyroid issues, such as Hashimoto’s disease, can run in families.
Can it be cured?
All thyroid diseases can be managed to achieve its normal function, however, this frequently requires medication to main its normal state.