Thyroid gland diseases

Jul 10, 2012 , Zuzana Boučková

nemoci-stitne-zlazy.jpg - kopie
nemoci-stitne-zlazy.jpg - kopie
Thyroid gland diseases can arise for various reasons. The most common are the swelling of the organ, increased or decreased hormonal production, inflammations or cancer. Thyroid gland diseases are easily treatable, which gives the patient a great chance of leading an entirely normal life.

Thyroid gland diseases

The thyroid gland can be afflicted by a whole range of diseases, originating both directly from the gland, from another organ or caused by outside influence. The main purpose of the thyroid gland is to produce hormones, compounds which directly influence the organism's workings. To put it simply, they tell other organt what to do right now. Although the thyroid gland and its purpose are often unknown by the general public, terms like goiter, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are generally well known.

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland is an organ found on the front of the neck, in front of the trachea and under the thyroid cartilage. Its main purpose is to produce hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which have an irreplacable role in many processes in the whole body. It's production involves the absorption of iodine from blood by cells of the thyroid gland and its subsequent processing. Another thyroid hormone is called calcitonin. This hormone manages calcium levels in blood, specifically, it lowers them by stockpiling calcium within bones.

Causes of thyroid gland diseases

Unfortunately, thyroid gland diseases are fairly common in developed countries, occuring in about 10-30% of the population. Women are affected more often than men, especially at a middle and higher age. The most common issues tied to thyroid gland diseases are caused by the organ's swelling, increased or decreased production of hormones, inflammations and cancer. Theses diseases are neccessary to consider especially if the person is easily tired, feels muscular weakness, loses or gains weight, is distressed, depressive or has suddenly appearing heart issues.

Thyroid gland examination

The treatment of diseases as well as the examination of a thyroid gland falls under the medical branch of endocrinology, which concerns all endocrine glands. Any examination by an endocrinologist should begin with a detailed discussion with the patient about his issues, diseases in family or observed changes, floowed by a thorough palpation of the neck. The most beneficial examinations are an ultrasound of the neck area, laboratory tests concerning the levels of relevant hormones or an x-ray coupled with a radioiodine imaging of the gland. A treatment is then chosen based on the preliminary diagnosis.

Division of thyroid gland diseases


The swelling of a thyroid gland, known as a goiter or a struma, is the most common disease of the thyroid gland, affecting 5% of population worldwide. Its symptoms are visible to the naked eye, with the otherwise invisible gland swelling in size, which can lead to both cosmetic and health issues. Struma is usually caused by a lack of iodine or by issues with thyroid hormone production. Many of the ill get scared by struma, believing it to be a tumor. Sonography is a basic examination here, helping determine the gland's size. If there is any doubt in the diagnosis, a tissue sample is taken using biopsy. Struma treatment depends on the cause. If it doesn't endanger the patient's health, we only monitor its development. Other possibility is a radioiodine treatment, which is used in patients where a surgical treatment is riskier.


Hypothyroidism, a decreased function of the theryoid gland is a condition where the gland doesn't produce a sufficient amount of hormones. This causes an overall slowing down of the organism. The patient is tired, sleepy, moves slowly and tires quickly. Frequent constipation or, in worse cases, even intestinal blockage may be present. Patients may gain weight, since theri bodies retain fluids, which then build up, especially in lower areas of limbs, causing a swelling of skin known as a myxedema. Hypothyroidism afflicts around 1% of the population. This rises to 5% above the age of 60. Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by a blood test, which will discover low levels of thyroxine. Treatment is based on discovering the cause and supplying missing hormones.


Hyperthyeiodism, on the other hand, is a condition where the gland produces n xecess of hormones. The main symptoms are an overall acceleration of the organism, the patient suffers from sleeplessness and is tired. He appears to be hyperactive and often loses weight. This is a very common thyroid gland disease, affecting 1% of population during their life. Diagnosis is determined via blood testing. Treatment consists of applying thyrostatics, drugs to increase the gland's activity. Advanced stages of this disease are treated with radioiodine or surgically.

Thyroid gland inflammation

Thyroid gland inflammations, thyroiditides, are a group of diseases which vary by cause, symptoms, treatment and prognosis. They are generally divided into acute, subacute and chronic. Acute inflammation in mainly caused by bacteria and affects persons with weakened immune systems. Today it is a fairly rare disease, though it used to be lethal in some cases before antibiotics were discovered.
Subacute inflammation is caused by viruses. It occurs after an underwent disease of the airways or during epidemics, sometimes the patient may recall a contact with a whooping cough or measles.
Chronic inflammation is an autoimmune disease, meaninng the body's immune systems fights against the cells of its own organism. Chronic inflammation affects up to 5% of population and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Thyroid cancer

A carcinoma of the thyroid gland is a relatively common disease, affecting 1 person out of 10 000 every year. There are several types of carcinoma, the most common one being a papillary carcinoma, whose prognosis is very positive, however. Around 90% of patients survive over 10 years. The treatment is mainly surgical.

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