Possible culprit is the thyroid gland. It is important to detect the problem in time, because with proper treatment, you can avoid serious health problems.
The thyroid gland has the shape of a butterfly; it is located in the lower part of the neck, below the Adam’s apple, and produces hormones that regulate the rate of the metabolism. Disruption of its work slows down or speeds up the metabolism, as it disturbs the production of thyroid hormones. When their levels are too low or too high, there are a number of symptoms.
We should check the thyroid every five years, starting from the 35th year. People with symptoms or risk factors have to do tests more often. Hypothyroidism affects women older than 60, and a family history of the disease increases the risk.
Examination of the neck
This little habit helps you spot an enlarged thyroid gland. Tilt your head back and drink a sip of water. As you swallow, feel the neck below the Adam’s apple, just above the collarbone. Look for bulges and repeat the process several times. If you feel any bump or lump, contact your doctor!
Diagnosis of disorders of the thyroid gland is carried out by a blood test that measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If it is high, it usually means that the thyroid function is low (hypothyroidism), and if it is low, thyroid is too active (hyperthyroidism). At the request of the doctor, you can check the other thyroid hormones in the blood as well.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism
It is believed that the most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid gland, where it does not produce enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease is often hereditary, and in some cases it is a result of problems with the pituitary gland.
This gland is located in the brain and produces the so-called TSH, stimulating the thyroid gland. If the pituitary gland does not produce enough, the thyroid hormone levels will drop. Other causes are temporary inflammation of the thyroid gland, or drugs that affect its function.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism
Graves’ disease is valid for the second most common cause of diseases of the thyroid gland. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes the release of high levels of thyroid hormones. One feature of the disease is swelling of the neck and eyes, which is visible and annoying.
The consequences of lack of treatment
If left untreated, the consequences of this disease are high cholesterol levels and increased risk of stroke and heart attack. In severe cases, low levels of thyroid hormone can cause loss of consciousness and life-threatening drop of body temperature.
On the other hand, the consequences of untreated hyperthyroidism are heart problems and reduced bone density.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
In most cases, the treatment of the thyroid hormone is carried out in pill form, and the improvement is noticeable usually within a few weeks. Long-term treatment increases energy and reduces cholesterol levels and weight. Most patients must take treatment for life.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism
It includes an antithyroid drug to reduce the amount of thyroid hormone produced and it often must be drunk even when the problem goes away. Other medications can reduce symptoms such as increased heart rate and tremors. Another option is radioactive iodine, which destroys the thyroid gland within 6-18 weeks. When the thyroid is destroyed or removed by surgery, most patients must take its hormones in the form of tablets.
Surgical intervention is recommended in hyperthyroidism in case the drugs do not work.