Your thyroid is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly, right inside the front of your neck. Its job is to produce thyroid hormones, specifically triiodothyronine and thyroxine (T3 and T4, respectively).
These hormones regulate your metabolism, or how your body breaks down food and utilizes energy. When your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, or you have your thyroid removed, it affects every system in your body, since cells don’t get the energy they need.
Thyroid hormone issues can be broken down into one of two categories: hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. When you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid hormone levels are abnormally low. This can come from:
Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite — your thyroid levels are too high. If your thyroid is overproducing thyroid hormones, it could be a warning sign of:
Possibly. You might have some symptoms that let Dr. Leibowitz know that he needs to run some labs to check for thyroid disorders. General symptoms of thyroid disease include:
When your thyroid levels are low, you might also notice:
Having high thyroid levels has its own unique symptoms, too. With hyperthyroidism, you may experience:
Dr. Leibowitz treats your thyroid disorder based on the cause of your thyroid hormone imbalance. If your thyroid hormones are low (hypothyroidism), you probably need medications to replace them. If your thyroid is still intact, medications can stimulate thyroid hormone production. It’s likely that you need these medications for the rest of your life.
With high thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroidism), Dr. Leibowitz could suggest taking an anti-thyroid medication or going through a radioactive iodine treatment. It’s also possible that you may need surgery to have your thyroid removed, although this is always the last resort.
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