The thyroid can be a small gland, but it is very important in maintaining bodily functions. It is an integral part of the endocrine system. Thyroid disorders are common and affect females more as compared to males. Coming to the question of thyroid cure, most of the thyroid disorders can be treated but cannot be cured.
Lets us understand some common types of thyroid disorders and their treatment:
In this condition, the thyroid gland is overactive and produces higher-than-normal levels of hormones. It is seen to affect 1% of women worldwide. Graves’ disease is the commonest cause of hyperthyroidism consisting of almost 70% of the cases. It is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system wrongly targets the thyroid gland. This causes the thyroid gland to overproduce hormones. Some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are anxiety, tremors, brittle hair and nails, irritability, restlessness, nervousness, thin skin, weight loss, and muscle weakness.
Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include:
- Antithyroid drugs like methimazole, which prevent the thyroid gland from overproducing hormones.
- A large dose of radioactive iodine.
- Surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
Autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland in Graves’ disease cannot be stopped. Treatment of Graves’ disease is the same as that mentioned above. Beta-blockers can be given to control anxiety, rapid heart rate, and sweating.
In contrast to hyperthyroidism, this is a condition with an underactive thyroid gland. In this condition, the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism affects almost 4.6% of the U.S. population. Hashimoto’s disease is one of the commonest causes of hypothyroidism. It is a condition where the body’s immune system destroys the thyroid gland and its ability to produce hormones.
Cold intolerance, dry skin, fatigue, slow heart rate, constipation, weakness, weight gain, and depression are some of the common manifestations of hypothyroidism.
Hormone-replacing medications are used to improve thyroid hormone levels. There is no specific treatment for Hashimoto’s disease. However, surgery might be required to remove a part of the thyroid gland in advanced cases.
It is characterized by noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency in the diet is seen to be the commonest cause worldwide. It can affect individuals of any age and is commonly seen in areas where iodine rich foods are not readily available. Family history and radiation exposure increase the risk of goiter. Symptoms of goiter depend on its size and include breathlessness, difficulty in swallowing, cough, and hoarseness of voice. Most of the cases of goiter do not require treatment. Small doses of iodine are recommended when goiter is due to iodine deficiency.
They are growths that form on the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease are some of the common causes of thyroid nodules. Most of them are benign in nature. Most thyroid nodules are symptomless. However, larger nodules can cause difficulty in breathing and swallowing, goiter, and pain. Some nodules produce thyroid hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, some nodules are associated with Hashimoto’s disease and cause hypothyroidism.
Benign thyroid nodules do not require any treatment. A biopsy can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Occasionally, radioactive iodine is given to shrink the nodules if they grow. Cancerous nodules are rare and affect less than 4% of the population worldwide. Treatment of cancerous nodules depends on the type of tumor. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgical removal of the thyroid gland are some of the available treatment options.