The thyroid gland controls several bodily functions. Producing triiodothyronine (T3) and the hormone thyroxin (T4), the thyroid regulates how the human body uses energy, helps keep you warm and aids in keeping the brain, heart, kidneys and liver functioning properly. Thyroid function affects virtually every organ in the body. Thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH is produced in the pituitary gland. The amount of TSH released into your bloodstream depends on the amount of T4 recognized by the pituitary gland.
When something goes awry with thyroid function, some individuals experience symptoms that lead their primary care physician to order a test for thyroid problems or to make a referral to a specialist, such as the professionals at The Surgery Group of Los Angeles, for further evaluation and treatment.
Thyroid Gland Issues
There are several medical conditions related to functioning of the thyroid gland. Some individuals have an overactive thyroid, resulting in a condition called hyperthyroidism. Grave’s Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. When an individual has hyperthyroidism, the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing it to make more thyroid hormones than the body needs.
Untreated hyperthyroidism potentially results in problems related to the muscles, bones and heart. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that hyperthyroidism also sometimes causes menstrual cycle and fertility issues.
Some people have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. The most common cause is Hashimoto’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Symptoms include dry, brittle, thinning hair, weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, cold intolerance or depression.
Hashimoto’s occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid then becomes damaged and does not make enough thyroid hormones.
Another issue is thyroid cancer. Some individuals experience no symptoms related to thyroid cancer, a relatively uncommon cancer in the U.S. The American Thyroid Association reveals that in 2013, 640,000 people in the U.S. had thyroid cancer, with an estimated 64,000 new cases expected in 2016.
Test For Thyroid Problems
A doctor can sometimes feel an abnormality in your thyroid during a manual exam of the thyroid gland area. The doctor may only order one test for thyroid problems or several, depending on a number of factors.
A TSH test is usually the first test ordered. Blood test results indicating a high TSH level results in a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, while a low TSH level means you have hyperthyroidism. Physicians often order blood tests to determine your T3 and T4 levels when ordering the TSH test.
Several other tests, such as an ultrasound or needle biopsy, also help determine specific thyroid issues.
The treatment you receive depends upon your diagnosis. Whether you have hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer dictates your individualized treatment plan.
Contact The Surgery Group of Los Angeles to learn more.