If there is something wrong with your thyroid, you are not likely to notice immediately, because its symptoms may be manifestly graduated and vary widely among individuals. But whilst thyroid disorders may not be easy to prevent, there are ways to manage them effectively.
There are two major types: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is that state where the thyroid releases lower than normal quantities of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream, which tend to slow down the body's functions. Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid releases too much hormones, making bodily functions proceed at a faster rate.
Essentially then, these disorders are all about imbalances in hormonal secretions. But what happens exactly? It is much like a thermostat and boiler. Imagine the thyroid gland is a boiler (controlling the body's temperature and metabolic rate) and the pituitary gland is the thermostat that controls the temperature of the 'boiler'. This occurs when the 'thermostat' (pituitary) can not read the boiler temperature accurately, or when the 'boiler' (thyroid) does not respond appropriately to the thermostat.
Symptoms of thyroid disorders differ tremendously from person to person, ranging from barely noticeable to completely debilitating. For some people, the symptoms may be very severe despite the thyroid malfunction differs only modestly from normal. The reverse is also true: the symptoms may be quite mild but the malfunction may be consider abnormally. Some may remain undetected for many months as the symptoms can be mistaken for those in other conditions.
The likelihood of developing other diseases, or of having existing medical conditions worsen, can increase in those with thyroid disorders. When levels of hormones become too elevated because of hyperthyroidism, palpitations and atrial fibrillation can result. In atrial fibrillation, electrical impulses within the heart become erratic; if left untreated, it can lead to serious heart conditions like angina, or even precipitate heart failure.
Hyperthyroidism can also increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. Hypothyroidism can result in elevated blood levels of cholesterol, which is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Management of Thyroid Disorders
The treatment strategy will depend heavily on which particular type has been diagnosed. If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will probably prescribe thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of your life. An endocrinologist, a doctor who has specialized in the endocrine system, will usually manage patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, since this is a more complex disorder.
With effective management, thyroid disorders will not disrupt your daily routines. It is important that you take responsibility for yourself, follow your prescriptions as directed, and attend regular check-ups with your doctor or specialist. Becoming better informed about this disorder will help you deal with them more effectively.