The thyroid gland, or simply thyroid, is an organ located in the base of our neck and produces hormones called thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These regulate metabolism, digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development, and is also in charge of the maintenance of our bones.
Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) determine how fast or slow your metabolism is, so you can say they are pretty important. If your body’s T3 and T4 levels are lower or higher than normal, you may encounter problems with heart rate, digestive function, and weight. Overproduction of T3 and T4 result to hyperthyroidism, while underproduction of these hormones result to hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be diagnosed through various physical exams and blood tests to determine the levels of T3, T4, and TSH in your blood. Once diagnosed, both conditions can be treated based on your age, physical condition, and depending on whether there is an underlying cause to it or not.
In some cases, cell mutations in the thyroid may lead to cancer. Mutated cells don’t have the ability to die, causing them to accumulate and turn into a tumor. It’s still not clear what causes these mutations in the thyroid to occur.
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
Enlarged lymph nodes are common and people develop them as they age, and most of the time these are benign. However, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above as well, it’s best to contact your doctor and have yourself checked.
Thyroid cancer is diagnosed through a physical exam, review of your medical history, and blood tests. Your blood will show if there are any abnormalities in your thyroid gland. A sample of your thyroid tissue may also be taken with the use of a long, fine needle and ultrasound. Once diagnosed, imaging tests such as a CT scan and an ultrasound may be done to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body from the thyroid.
Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Thyroid cancer patients usually have their thyroid or parts of it removed to get rid of the cancer. Through surgery, the entire thyroid, enlarged lymph nodes, and/or a portion of the thyroid will be removed.
There is also thyroid hormone therapy, which uses a medication that balances out your TSH levels and normalizes the function of your thyroid gland. Radioactive iodine treatment is another one that is recommended by doctors.
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