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Tips to help control thyroid diseases

Although it's not often talked about, millions of people in North America have thyroid problems. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. It's part of the endocrine system, which controls your metabolism. Luckily, there is information on specific conditions, so that you can learn about and manage your disease.

What are thyroid diseases?

Thyroid diseases include any condition that interferes with how the thyroid works. Thyroid diseases include goiter, hyper- and hypothyroidism, Graves' disease, thyroid nodules and thyroiditis. They can often be diagnosed by testing your thyroid levels.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Sweating
  • Goiter (enlargement in your neck)
  • Graves' ophthalmology – bulging and drying out of the eyeballs

Symptoms of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Clinical depression
  • Constipation
  • Dry, rough skin and hair
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss

Thyroid diseases are often caused by too many or too few hormones being produced by the gland. There are a number of reasons for this, including nodules, Graves' disease (an auto-immune disease) and inflammation of the thyroid.

Thyroid cancer is a concern for women especially, but it is among one of the most curable cancers there is. It is treated using iodine, which cannot be absorbed by the other cells in the body. The patient is comfortable and cured after surgical interventions are taken to remove the cancer nodules from the thyroid gland.

Treatment for Thyroid Diseases

Diagnosis and treatment is done by an endocrinologist. You may be given radioactive iodine or medication containing thyroxin to control your gland and thyroid weight loss, or you may need surgery to remove your thyroid altogether. Beta blockers for high blood pressure may also be given. Keeping your thyroxin level at the right place is extremely important. Your thyroid can affect other parts of your body, including your mental health.

Thyroid problems are rarely life-threatening, although they do have complications if they go untreated. Most people with a thyroid disease live a perfectly normal life, as long as treatment is adhered to.

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