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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to Thyroid Thyroid

thyroidApproximately 15% of the U.S. population are diagnosed with thyroid disease.

Most experience an onset of symptoms with the approach of middle age with malfunction of the thyroid either producing excess thyroid hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism, or too little hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism.

How the thyroid gland works - a delicate balance

The thyroid is butterfly-shaped gland which lies in the neck below the Adam's apple. It measures about 2 inches across, and usually cannot be seen unless it becomes enlarged (goiter).

In order for the thyroid to work properly, it depends on minute amounts of iodine usually found in food, water or iodized salt.

The thyroid gland's main job is to secrete hormones which control your metabolic rate — but the normally functioning thyroid does not work alone. The level of hormones it produces is kept in check by the a peanut-sized pituitary gland at the base of the brain which, in turn, is regulated by the hypothalamus.

All three glands perform a delicate dance that keeps your body functioning neither too fast nor too slow, and if the thyroid becomes diseased or inflamed, other bodily systems become affected and medical attention is required.

more in Health:
endocrine system
Endocrine System


Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include depression or lethargy, weight gain, chronic fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, acne, muscle aches, constipation, menstrual abnormalities or low libido.

Hashimoto's disease is the most common form of hypothyroidism, causing the gland to become enlarged and inflamed. At first, the gland produces too much hormone, but then the thyroid may simply shut down. Following diagnosis of hypothyroidism, patients are usually put on a regimen of thyroid medication to replace the hormones that the thyroid gland no longer produces.

Synthroid is a synthetic hormone which is conventionally used by endocrinolgists.

Cytomel is another synthetic hormone that may be administered to patients who do not respond well to Synthroid.

Unithroid, approved by the FDA in 2000, is yet another medication available for those who suffer from under-active thyroid.


Overactive thyroid symptoms are opposite to those of hypothyroidism. Signs of hyperthyroidism typically include weight loss, inability to sleep, intolerance to heat, rapid pulse, trembling hands, or bulging eyes, the latter symptom most often seen in those who suffer from Grave's disease.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism may include anti-thyroid drugs which inhibit thyroid hormone activity. A radioactive iodine "cocktail" may also be administered orally and absorbed by the thyroid gland. This effectively eliminates some of the thyroid cells and treats the patient by diminishing the gland's activity.

A hospital stay may also be required, during which a part of the thyroid is removed in a subtotal thyroidectomy under general anesthesia.

Supplemental treatment for thyroid disease

Along with conventional treatments for serious thyroid disease, medical nutritionists recommend a daily multi-vitamin, along with extra supplements of Vitamins A, C and E, B-complex, B12 and CoEnzyme Q10.

In addition, mineral deficiency in magnesium, manganese, selenium, or zinc may prevent the conversion of T4 to T3 and adversely affect normal thyroid function.

also see -> Graves disease | Treating hyperthyroidism | Thyroid cancer

More about thyroid disease around the Web:

MedlinePlus : Thyroid Diseases
- Extensive information on how they are diagnosed and treated, along with resources to more on thyroid surgery and specific conditions such as goiter, graves disease and more. - Facts, information and feature articles on a wide range of topics including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, thyroid cancer, and related diseases.

Thyroid Center - Medicinenet guide with comprehensive information on how the thyroid works, the causes of disease with symptoms and treatment, related news and updates, and Ask The Expert Q&A.

Alternative Medicine and Therapies for Thyroid Disease - Good discussion on diet and mineral supplements that support a healthy thyroid including foods to avoid, with related resources.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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