Located in the neck, the thyroid gland produces important hormones necessary for metabolism -- the conversion of food into a source of energy that can be used by the body -- and other processes.
Thyroid disease affects the production of these hormones, especially the rate at which they are produced. Some diseases can cause the thyroid to produce too many hormones -- hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid -- while others can cause too few hormones to be produced (hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid).
Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland, and another thyroid disease called goiter causes the butterfly-shaped gland to become enlarged, often as a result of dietary deficiencies.
Thyroid disease becomes more common with age, and it can also occur as a result of certain diseases, including autoimmune disorders like Graves’ disease, which causes hyperthyroidism, or Hashimoto’s disease, which causes hypothyroidism.
Having a diet with too little iodine can also cause thyroid dysfunction, and so can tumors.
The symptoms of thyroid disease can vary based on the severity of the disease, the underlying cause, and whether hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is present.
Hypothyroidism causes symptoms like:
Hyperthyroidism is associated with:
Doctors can diagnose thyroid disease with a blood test that measures the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. Depending on the test results, Dr. Batlle may recommend additional tests, including lab work, diagnostic imaging or biopsies (small samples of thyroid tissue removed using a hollow needle) to determine if a tumor is present or to test for underlying diseases.
When an underlying autoimmune disease or other identifiable factors cause thyroid disease, treatment typically focuses on managing that disease first.
Most men and women with thyroid disease will need to take medication to stabilize or supplement thyroid hormone production. When thyroid disease is caused by a tumor, Dr. Batlle may recommend radiation or chemotherapy. Regular visits with him will ensure the dosing remains optimized for the patient’s needs.
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