Thyroid dysfunction

 

Thyroid dysfunction is one of the most widespread diseases in our modern society and, if left untreated, can lead to other secondary diseases that can spread to other organs of the body.

 

Schilddrüsen-Illustration im menschlichen Körper

Foto: picture-alliance / Wissen Media Verlag

The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck and consists of two lobes that resemble the shape of a butterfly. When functioning normally in a healthy body, it is barely visible, while in many cases it appears enlarged in diseased individuals and thus can be perceived as a swelling.

As an important organ, the thyroid gland produces the two hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which are involved in the conversion of nutrients absorbed through food into energy. In this way, the thyroid gland exerts a direct influence on metabolism.

A diseased thyroid gland can no longer carry out this process adequately and thus ensures that the body’s energy consumption is too low or too high. However, it not only plays an important role in metabolism, but also has other important functions in the body, such as the regulation of heat balance, heart rate , intestinal and respiratory function and the responsiveness of nerves and muscles. In many cases, acute iodine deficiency is a trigger for the malfunction of the important bodily organ.

 

 

What are the thyroid diseases?

 

Thyroid diseases occur in different forms and are accompanied by various symptoms and complaints. Some affected individuals have a family history of the disease, while others have an autoimmune disorder as the cause of the organ disease.

 

The most common thyroid disorders include:

 

Hypothyroidism

 

Hypothyroidism of the organ often affects young women over the age of 30 or men over the age of 60. The condition is caused by insufficient hormone production by the thyroid gland to fully support the body’s metabolism.

Affected individuals are usually affected by reduced performance, feel permanently tired and complain of difficulty concentrating as well as sudden weight gain.

If hypothyroidism is not recognized and treated over a longer period of time, it can lead to increased blood lipid levels and, in the worst case, to a heart attack.

 

Hyperthyroidism

 

In hyperthyroidism, the organ produces an excessive amount of hormones, which drives the metabolism to peak performance and thus subjects the body to high stress.

In many cases, the disease is due to the formation of a goiter, a tissue alteration of the thyroid gland that is expressed externally in cold or hot nodules, as well as Graves’ disease.

Patients with this clinical picture suffer in many cases from nervousness, weight loss, hair loss or sleep disturbances. Due to the increased pressure on the heart caused by hyperthyroidism, the disease can lead to life-threatening cardiac insufficiency.

 



 

Thyroiditis

 

A thyroiditis can occur acutely or involve a chronic course of disease. It is mainly triggered by bacteria or can occur as a result of a viral infection. In a chronic course, many cases are due to an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), which is based on a familial predisposition.

Hashimoto’s disease is initially manifested in many cases by hyperthyroidism, which is due to a disease of the body’s defense system. The tissue of the organ is attacked and permanently damaged.

As the disease progresses, hyperthyroidism transforms into hypothyroidism and leads to the initial symptoms associated with hypothyroidism of the organ. In many cases, sufferers usually face a lifetime of treatment with thyroid hormone tablets.

 

Thyroid enlargement

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About 35% of Germans today suffer from enlargement of the thyroid. The disease is due to a permanent acute iodine deficiency and in many cases affects mainly the female population..

Due to an insufficient intake of iodine-containing foods, the production of the hormones thyroxine and tryiodothyronine is inhibited. This leads to an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which tries to counter the low hormone balance through regular growth.

Due to the steady growth, so-called goiter or nodules may form in the enlarged thyroid gland, which require a detailed examination by a specialist.

 

What symptoms can occur with thyroid disease?

 

A disease of the thyroid gland can draw attention to itself by many different signs. Depending on the type and cause, it is associated with various symptoms, which in many cases are detected and treated late. In the modern working day, a healthy and balanced diet usually comes too short..

Vital nutrients, such as iodine or protein, are contained only in small quantities in food. However, they are particularly important for hormone production in the thyroid gland.

All the more reason to watch out for alarming signs that may indicate a disease of the thyroid gland.

  • Sore throat, swelling, voice changes or an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the throat can be due to an enlarged thyroid gland and should be examined more closely by a doctor.
  • Concentration problems are not always due to age or menopause in women, but can also have an underactive or overactive thyroid gland as a cause. Anyone who has problems with concentration or memory in everyday life, should get to the bottom of the causes and consult a medical professional.
  • Hair loss is just in the spring and winter in some circumstances a normal process. However, if this happens at an increased rate, over a long period of time, this may be an indication of a diseased thyroid gland.
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain despite normal food intake and exercise can be a crucial sign of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
  • Persistent fatigue, as well as muscle pain or cramps, are often due to low levels of thyroid hormones and require appropriate diagnosis and medication.
  • Frequent mood swings, nervousness, and irritability may be symptoms of excessive thyroid hormone production.
  • Increased blood pressure, palpitations or fibrillation of the heart can provide a crucial clue to a variety of diseases. However, they can also be a symptom of untreated thyroid disease and should be diagnosed by a thorough medical examination.

Thyroid disease does not manifest itself in all cases with clear acute symptoms, but in many cases develops insidiously over a long period of time.

For this reason, it is important to take possible signs seriously and to be examined more closely by a specialist.

 

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