The most common type of thyroid problems include excessive production of thyroid hormones in the body
Too much thyroid hormone in the body results in a medical condition known as hyperthyroxinemia. Inadequate hormone production results in hypothyroxinemia.
Thyroid problems may affect the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for controlling the body's temperature. Hypothalamic problems can also result in symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue and depression. Pituitary gland problems can result in growth retardation, lack of energy and depression.
Another type of thyroid problem that leads to hormonal imbalances in the body is called an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body is unable to absorb and secrete a special hormone known as thyrostatin. When this hormone is released, it causes an imbalance in the production and metabolism of other hormones in the body.
Thyroid problems can also be caused by an infection that affects the thyroid gland. Antibiotics and viral infections are some of the causes of hypothyroidism and cancer treatments that target the thyroid gland.
Deficiencies in other hormones that can lead to overproduction of thyroid hormones can include a congenital condition called gigantism, an inherited form of dwarfism, and an undeveloped thyroid gland. Many people with hypothyroidism also have hypoandropic conditions, which results in decreased secretion of natural hormones and increased production of the hormone cortisol.
Patients with hypothyroidism also have abnormal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the body. This hormone helps regulate testosterone and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels. With hypothyroidism, thyroid-stimulating hormone levels may decrease, leading to a decrease in muscle mass and weakness.
In addition to the normal amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the body, the thyroid gland must also have a certain level of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). In hypothyroid patients, TSH levels may be too low. This imbalance prevents the thyroid from producing the required amounts of both estrogen and progesterone.
Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, depression, poor memory, slow growth, constipation, weight gain and weight loss, rapid heartbeat, dry skin, paleness and dry eyes, muscle weakness, constipation, fatigue and an increased susceptibility to infections. In mild cases of hypothyroid patients, these symptoms may resolve on their own and with time, but in more serious cases surgery may be required to correct the underlying problems.
Thyroid problems are usually diagnosed by a physical exam, blood work, x-rays, biopsy and a review of your medical history. During the physical exam, a thyroid specialist will check for signs of hypothyroidism such as excessive facial hair, an enlarged thyroid, nodules or calcification, slow growth, brittle hair and low muscle tone. The doctor may also perform an ultrasound to evaluate the thyroid's position in your neck and body.
Blood tests can also be performed to determine if there is an infection or other hormonal imbalance causing the hyperthyroidism. Common symptoms of infection are weight loss, depression and weight gain. Some patients may also experience fatigue and muscle pain.
A biopsy will help to determine if your thyroid gland has an infection or is just underactive. If the doctor determines that you have an underactive thyroid, the thyroid will be tested for thyroid stimulating hormone levels in a process called radioactive iodine testing.
An x-ray can also be used to diagnose thyroid problems. X-rays of the thyroid gland can help the doctor to see if the gland is underproducing and/or overproducing hormone.
Your doctor may recommend a hormone replacement treatment for any of the above mentioned conditions as well as for other medical conditions. It's best to find out more about the thyroid condition before taking any of these medications. Some medications will work if only for short periods of time, while others may need to be taken indefinitely to correct the problem permanently. Taking medication regularly can prevent future complications.