Thyroid Disease Treatment

What is thyroid disease?

doctor checking female patient's neck

Thyroid disease is due to the thyroid gland overfunctioning or underfunctioning. The thyroid gland is located in the neck and produces thyroid hormones which are essential for maintaining the body’s metabolism. Specialists called endocrinologists treat patients with thyroid disease and related conditions.

What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?

younger woman with older woman smiling outdoors

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) may be detected by the following symptoms:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Puffiness in the face
  • Increased sensitivity to the cold
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Thinning hair
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Slowed heart rate.

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may present with the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Hand tremors
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fine, brittle hair

What are the causes of and risk factors for thyroid disease?

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) has a number of causes such as autoimmune disease, radiation therapy, treatment, or surgery of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and some medications. Less common causes include congenital disease, pregnancy, pituitary disorder, or iodine deficiency.

The risk factors for an underactive thyroid are the following :

  • Female.
  • Over the age of 60.
  • Exposure to radiation on the neck.
  • Prior thyroid surgery.
  • Autoimmune disease.
  • Family history of thyroid disease or autoimmune disease.
  • Caucasian or Asian ethnicity.
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth or menopause.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down or Turner syndrome).

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is most commonly caused by Graves’ disease. Other causes include, excess iodine, thyroiditis, tumours of the ovaries or testes, benign tumours of the thyroid or pituitary gland.

The risk factors for an overactive thyroid are the following :

  • Female.
  • Over the age of 60.
  • Recent pregnancy.
  • Autoimmune disease.
  • Family history of autoimmune disease.
  • Previous thyroid problems.
  • Overconsumption of iodine.
Enquire with our endocrinologists.

Did you know?

The thyroid gland can differ anatomically which can have implications for safe and effective surgery.¹

What are the possible complications of thyroid disease?

father mother and two children outdoors

If left untreated, thyroid disease can have serious health implications. An underactive thyroid may result in a number of serious complications including an enlarged thyroid, high cholesterol and heart disease, nerve damage, infertility, birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth, depression, and myxedema (cold intolerance, lethargy, and drowsiness which is rare and life-threatening).

An overactive thyroid can lead to complications such as brittle bones, eye problems, heart problems, skin rashes, and thyrotoxic crisis (a worsening of symptoms that requires medical attention).

When should I see a specialist for thyroid disease treatment?

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of thyroid disease, you may arrange to make an appointment with or be referred to a specialist. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to managing symptoms and maintaining quality of life.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

Prior to your appointment, compile all the necessary information concerning your symptoms, medical history, and current medication or vitamins. If you have questions for your specialist, write them down and be sure to gather all the necessary information regarding your diagnosis and treatment plan.

How do specialists screen for and diagnose thyroid disease?

Specialists diagnose thyroid disease by testing the levels of thyroid hormones present in your blood.

What treatments are available for thyroid disease?

An underactive thyroid is treated with thyroid replacement medication.

An overactive thyroid may be treated by an radioactive iodide, anti-thyroid medication or surgery.

Request an appointment with an endocrinologist today.

[1] Ranade AV, Rai R, Pai MM, Nayak SR, Prakash, Krisnamurthy A, Narayana S. Anatomical variations of the thyroid gland: possible surgical implications. Singapore Med J. 2008 Oct;49(10):831-4