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Thyroid gland: what it is, functions, research, diseases and treatment

Find out how important the thyroid gland is to us. Find out what it can suffer from and how to treat it.

Matthew Podlecki - AuthorAuthorMatthew Podlecki
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Thyroid gland: what it is, functions, research, diseases and treatment
29 April, 2024
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Although the thyroid gland would fit in the palm of your hand, it is crucial to health and life. It affects every area of our body - from biology to the psyche. Unfortunately, up to 60% of us may be suffering from problems related to it in ignorance.

Even the smallest disturbance can have avalanche-like consequences: from changes in weight to mood to severe chronic diseases. That is why, together with Dr Witold Tomaszewski, M.D., and clinical nutritionist Marta Kaczorek, we tell you everything you need to know about the thyroid gland.

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From this article you will learn:

  • What functions the thyroid gland performs and what processes it influences.
  • What the thyroid gland does.
  • What are the most common thyroid diseases and whether they can be cured.
  • .
  • How the diet should be in case of thyroid diseases.
  • How the diet should be in case of thyroid diseases.
  • Is physical activity advisable in thyroid disease.
  • What is the best way to be active in thyroid disease?
  • What is worth supplementing in thyroid problems.
  • .
  • Is thyroid disease avoidable.
  • Is thyroid disease avoidable?

Are you experiencing the symptoms described in the article? Perform thyroid tests and consult an endocrinologist. Early diagnosis means a better chance of effective treatment.

Regular examinations are crucial and help control your health.

See also:

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What is the thyroid gland and what is it responsible for?

The thyroid gland is a small organ located at the front of the neck. It envelops the trachea below the laryngeal cartilage. It resembles the shape of a butterfly with two broad wings that extend around the throat.

The thyroid gland is a small organ in the neck.

Functions of the thyroid gland

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The thyroid gland is a gland that, despite its small size, is extremely important for our body.

One of its main tasks is the production and release of the important hormones for our functioning - T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), as well as calcitonin.

The thyroid gland is one of the most important parts of the body.

The thyroid gland's work, in turn, is regulated by the pituitary gland, more specifically by the thyrotropic hormone (TSH) it secretes.

The thyroid gland affects most of our vital functionsand, including:

  • breathing,
  • .
  • digestion,
  • .
  • metabolism and energy expenditure,
  • .
  • thermogenesis (maintenance of body temperature),
  • .
  • fertility,
  • .
  • brain development and mental activity,
  • .
  • condition of skin, bones, hair and nails,
  • .
  • mental health,
  • .

Most common thyroid diseases

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Thyroid disorders and diseases are already civilisation phenomena. It is estimated that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from thyroid diseases. In Poland, they affect 1 in 5 people, which puts them in third place among the chronic diseases most frequently complained about by Poles. According to CSO data published in 2021, 15.8 per cent of women and 2.5 per cent of men indicated they were affected.

Hashimoto's disease

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Hashimoto's is otherwise known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. It is a genetic disease in which thyroid cells are destroyed by the patient's immune system. It is the most commonand cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries.

Causes

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Women develop Hashimoto's disease up to 10 times more often than men. It is diagnosed in people of different age ranges. Although the first cases were described in 1912, scientists still don't know why some people develop the disease and others don't.

Scientists still don't know.

Scientists do not know the exact causes of Hashimoto's. It is most likely that a genetic factor plays an important role in its development, so if you have a confirmed case in your family, your risk of developing the disease is higher.

The risk of developing Hashimoto's is also important.

In addition, environmental factors are important.

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A link between certain viruses (e.g. influenza) and the onset of Hashimoto's has been proven. Research is ongoing into other factors that may induce the triggering of the disease, including deficiency or excess of certain micronutrients or chronic stress.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Symptoms

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Initially, Hashimoto's disease may not produce any significant symptoms. Over time, one or more of the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism may occur.

Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism that may suggest the development of Hashimoto's disease include:

  • constant fatigue,
  • .
  • insomnia,
  • .
  • feeling cold and chilly,
  • .
  • pain in joints and muscles,
  • discomfort.
  • constipation,
  • .
  • weight gain,
  • .
  • pale, dry and flaky skin,
  • .
  • hair loss,
  • .
  • menstrual cycle disorders,
  • .
  • problems with libido and fertility,
  • .
  • lower mood or full-blown depression,
  • .
  • slow heart rate and low blood pressure,
  • .
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As the disease progresses, with gradual degeneration of the thyroid gland and reduced hormone production, symptoms can vary in severity. The longer the disease lasts, the more severe and more intense the symptoms will be observed in the patient.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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In some patients, Hashimoto's disease cannot be conclusively diagnosed on the basis of symptoms alone - hormonal thyroid testing will be required for diagnosis.

Treatment

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There is no single effective treatment that will inhibit the destruction of the thyroid gland. Typically, therapy is based primarily on the treatment of hypothyroidism. Treatment may involve taking medication with levothyroxine (l-thyroxine), which is simply a synthetic version of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. This will bring the TSH levels back to normal and the body will begin to function properly.

Otherwise, it will be necessary to take a medication to treat the thyroid gland.

Alongside this, you will need to have your thyroid checked and see a doctor to keep you up to date with the correct dose of the medication.

There is no need for a doctor's visit.

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There are various l-thyroxine preparations available in Poland, which may differ in their effects and potential side effects, so it is advisable to take one product at all times.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Unfortunately, in the case of Hashimoto's disease (and hypothyroidism), treatment will most often have to be lifelong.

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Hashimoto's disease versus hypothyroidism

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Let's get this straight once and for all - Hashimoto's disease is not synonymous with hypothyroidism. Yes, as an autoimmune disease it is one of the mainand causes of hypothyroidism.

You can read more about Hashimoto's disease in the article: Hashimoto's - symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

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Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to produce and release enough hormones to meet all of our body's needs.

Because of the causes, there are threeand types of hypothyroidism:

  • primary (direct disruption of hormone secretion by the thyroid gland),
  • .
  • secondary (disruption of thyrotropic hormone (TSH) production by the pituitary gland),
  • .
  • thyroidism (disorders of thyroxine (TRH) synthesis or secretion by the hypothalamus).

There is also a division into symptomatic and subclinical hypothyroidism. The latter is mildand insufficiency. Because it progresses in a way that is difficult to observe (often no obvious symptoms are seen initially), it is called suspended or hidden.

The basis for the diagnosis of this condition is when the thyroid hormones are within accepted reference values (i.e. performing well), but the TSH level is slightly above them (which is no longer good).

Subclinical hypothyroidism is thought to affect between 3 and 15% of people around the world.

Symptoms

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Hypothyroidism manifests itself in a number of ways depending on age, gender, severity of the disease or general health. Hypothyroidism produces up to three groups of symptoms:

  • physical (e.g. menstrual disorders, constipation, breakable nails, low, hoarse voice, weight gain, weakness and hair loss or problems with libido and fertility);
  • thyroidism.
  • psychiatric (e.g. memory and concentration problems, chronic fatigue, depressed mood, anxiety and depression);
  • neurological (e.g. headaches, burning tongue, high sensitivity to cold);
  • .
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Significant symptoms of hypothyroidism can easily be trivialised or explained away by stress, fatigue or the daily hustle and bustle. Don't underestimate any symptoms - this is the only way to make a quick diagnosis and effectively guide therapy.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Causes and risk groups

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In our country, several main causes ofand hypothyroidism are observed. These are primarily:

  • Hashimoto's disease,
  • .
  • thyroid surgery: the degree of hypothyroidism depends on the extent of the surgery - from partial to complete removal of the thyroid gland,
  • .
  • treatment with radioactive iodine and radiotherapy,
  • .
  • deficiency of iodine in the diet,
  • .

Hypothyroidism can also be caused by: pregnancy (postpartum thyroiditis), de Quervain's diseaseand, the use of certain medications (e.g. amodiarone, interferons or phenobarbital), as well as pituitary disorders or congenital defects.

Groups at increased risk of developing hypothyroidism include:

  • women,
  • .
  • persons over 60 years of age,
  • .
  • persons with a family history of thyroid disease,
  • .
  • persons with autoimmune diseases, including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease or pernicious anaemia,
  • .
  • persons with Turner's or Down's syndrome,
  • .
  • pregnant women or mothers who have given birth within the last 6 months,
  • .
  • persons following thyroid surgery (partial or total excision),
  • .
  • persons treated with radioiodine,
  • .
  • persons whose diet is deficient in iodine.

Treatment

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Treatment of hypothyroidism primarily involves pharmacotherapy and regular examinations and follow-up medical appointments. A daily diet and appropriately selected supplementation will also be important.

Patients with hypothyroidism need to supplement thyroid hormone deficiencies, so synthetic levothyroxine is used in their case. The doctor prescribes the appropriate dose depending on the results of periodic thyroid tests.

Patients with hypothyroidism are treated with levothyroxine.

In most cases, treatment of hypothyroidism lasts a lifetime.

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Possible complications

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Unmedicated hyperthyroidism - including in its subclinical form - leads to a number of dangerous consequences. The most important complications ofand hypothyroidism are:

    .
  • cardiovascular problems,
  • .
  • neuropathies,
  • .
  • mental health problems,
  • .
  • wolemias,
  • .
  • weight gain,
  • .
  • disorders of libido and fertility,
  • .
  • sleep apnoea,
  • .
  • damage to the nervous system,
  • damage to the nervous system.
  • muscle and joint pain,
  • .

Find out more about hypothyroidism in the text: Hypothyroidism: causes, symptoms, treatment [Advice from a Doctor and a Nutritionist].

Hypothyroidism: causes, symptoms, treatment [Advice from a Doctor and a Nutritionist].

Graves-Based disease

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Graves-Basedow disease is an autoimmune thyroid disease in which the body produces antibodies against the TSH receptor, which regulates thyroid function. The antibodies stimulate the secretory function of the gland, resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Causes

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What leads to the development of Graves-Basedow disease is still unknown. Researchers speculate that it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as viruses, stress, smoking (doublesand increases the risk of hyperthyroidism) or too much iodine intake in the diet, medication or during supplementation.

The causes of Graves-Basedow's disease are still unknown.

Symptoms

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The symptoms typical of Graves-Basedow disease are analogous to hyperthyroidism. Primarily these include:

  • enlarged thyroid gland (goiter),
  • .
  • excessive sweating,
  • .
  • changes in the eye area, including exophthalmos,
  • .
  • fine tremor of the hands and fingers,
  • loss of body weight.
  • loss of body weight,
  • .
  • frequent bowel movements,
  • .
  • fatigue and sleep disturbances,
  • .
  • palpitations (accelerated and irregular heartbeat),
  • .
  • changes in menstrual cycles,
  • .
  • sexual dysfunction (erection, libido),
  • .
  • anxiety and irritability,
  • .

Most characteristic of Graves-Basedow disease is its paroxysmal and recurrent course - periods of exacerbated symptoms alternate with remission.

Treatment

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Treatment

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Diagnosis of Graves' disease mainly includes an in-depth history and extended thyroid examinations. Additional tests include ultrasound and thyroid scintigraphy, as well as blood morphology, lipidogram, ALT or serum protein determination.

Treatment of Graves' disease

Treatment of Graves' disease

The treatment of Graves-Basedow disease is primarily symptomatic therapy aimed at achieving a state of euthyroidism, or hormonal balance. This is usually done in three ways, using:

  • pharmacological treatment (antithyroid drugs and beta-blockers are administered),
  • .
  • radioactive iodine treatment,
  • .
  • surgical treatment (usually the whole or part of the thyroid gland has to be resected).
  • .

In the case of thyroid surgery and radioiodine treatment, hypothyroidism usually develops, which should be regarded as evidence of the effectiveness of the therapy rather than a side effect of it.

Hypothyroidism

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Hyperthyroidism, or hyperthyroidism, is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces and secretes more hormones than it actually needs.

Hyperthyroidism is also referred to as its dormant, subclinical form. Indications for the diagnosis of subclinical hyperthyroidism are low TSH levels and normal FT3 and FT4 results.

Subclinical hyperthyroidism is an indication of subclinical hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms

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Symptoms of hyperthyroidism affect many areas of daily functioning. These are mainly:

  • increased appetite and concomitant weight loss,
  • .
  • exhaustion and other eye changes (e.g. double vision, swelling or redness of the conjunctiva),
  • .
  • excessive sweating,
  • .
  • irregular menstrual periods,
  • .
  • palpitations of the heart,
  • excessive sweating,
  • regular menstrual periods,
  • regular menstrual periods,
  • regular menstruation.
  • weakness of muscles,
  • .
  • increased blood pressure,
  • .
  • thyroid enlargement and goiter,
  • .
  • thin and brittle hair,
  • .
  • irritability and frequent mood changes,
  • .

Causes and risk groups

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Hyperthyroidism is responsible forand:

  • Graves-Basedow disease (the main cause),
  • .
  • thyroid nodules (you will detect them, among other things, in a scintigraphic examination),
  • .
  • problems with the pituitary and hypothalamus,
  • .
  • too much intake of iodine.
  • .

Different types of thyroiditis (e.g. subacute or postpartum) tend to cause hypothyroidism, but can also lead to transient or subclinical hyperthyroidism.

Factors that increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism are:

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    .
  • gender (women get the disease more often),
  • .
  • age (people who are over 60 years of age are more likely to have the disease),
  • .
  • family history of thyroid disease,
  • .
  • health problems (e.g. anaemia, type I and II diabetes, adrenal insufficiency or Addison's disease),
  • .
  • smoking,
  • .
  • pregnancy,
  • .
  • use of medications with a high dose of iodine,
  • .

Treatment

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The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is based on hormonal thyroid tests, and to determine its causes and select the best therapy, it is worthwhile to additionally perform:

  • Thyroid ultrasonography,
  • Hypothyroidism test
  • antithyroid antibody testing, thyroid biopsy (if a nodule or nodules are found),
  • scintigraphy
  • scintigraphy, which is complementary to imaging studies,
  • .

Hypothyroidism is treated in three ways - depending on the established cause and severity of the disease. These are: pharmacotherapy, which includes the use of thionamides, radioactive iodine treatment and surgery.

Surgery.

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After treatment with radioactive iodine, hypothyroidism often develops, which is much easier to control than hyperthyroidism. Treat it as an effect of the treatment, not a side effect.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Possible complications

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Complications and consequences resulting from untreated hyperactivity can affect virtually all systems and processes in our body. The following are considered to be the most dangerous:

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    .
  • thyroid storm - a combination and rapid increase in symptoms of hyperthyroidism that is life-threatening,
  • .
  • atrial fibrillation,
  • .
  • osteoporosis,
  • .
  • arrhythmia,
  • .
  • stroke,
  • .
  • fertility problems,
  • .
  • threat to pregnancy,
  • .
  • thyroid eye disease,
  • .

What is thyrotoxicosis?

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The condition of thyrotoxicosis means that the body's tissues and cells are exposed to too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can cause thyrotoxicosis, but the terms should not be used interchangeably. Hyperthyroidism is not thyrotoxicosis - in exactly the same way that Hashimoto's disease is not hypothyroidism.

Find out more about hyperthyroidism in the article: Hyperthyroidism: symptoms, causes, treatment [Doctor's advice].

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Other thyroid diseases

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Thyroiditis

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Thyroiditis is a variety of disease entitiesand that can be caused by a number of factors - from bacteria and viruses, to autoimmune disorders, pregnancy or the use of specific medications. Thyroiditis can be permanent or temporary.

The most common types of this condition are:

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  • Hashimoto's disease, which is chronic autoimmune thyroiditis;
  • .
  • De Quervain's disease, or subacute thyroiditisand;
  • .
  • Postpartum thyroiditis - affects women who have recently given birth and usually resolves within 12-18 months after delivery. Sometimes low levels of thyroid hormones persist permanently;
  • .
  • Drug-induced thyroiditis - certain medications can impair thyroid function and cause hyper or hypothyroidism;
  • .
  • Asymptomatic thyroiditis - can affect both men and women. It often has a biphasic course: a period of hyperthyroidism is followed by hypothyroidism. Symptoms usually resolve after 12-18 months;
  • .
  • Orthritis or infectious thyroiditis - associated with immune weakness and bacterial infection;
  • .
  • Poradic thyroiditis - caused by treatment with radiotherapy or radioactive iodine).

goitre

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A goiter is a palpable and visible enlargement of the thyroid gland - sometimes an ultrasound of the thyroid gland is required for diagnosis. Goitre can occur both when the thyroid gland is functioning normally and in cases of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Other causes include pregnancy, the use of certain medications, deficiency of iodine, selenium, iron and vitamin A, as well as cancerous lesions.

Goitre for a long time may not produce any symptoms. Over time, symptomatic treatment is administered, which is also directed at eliminating the underlying cause.

There is no need to treat it.

Thyroid nodules

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Thyroid nodules are thyroid lesions that may be fluid-filled (cyst) or cellular. They can be palpated by palpation of the neck, among other things.

The direct causes of nodules are still unknown. Iodine deficiency, Hashimoto's disease and genetic predisposition are most commonly suggested.

It is a fairly common condition.

This is a fairly common condition. About 6% of women and 1% of men suffer from itand the risk increases with age. Most nodules are benign and non-toxic. A small percentage may turn out to be thyroid cancer.

Treatment of nodules is determined individually for each patient. It depends on the reported symptoms, age, history, comorbidities and results of previous investigations, including fine-needle aspiration biopsy.

Treatment of nodules is determined on an individual basis.

Alarming symptoms that should get your attention include rapidly increasing neck circumference and pain, enlarged lymph nodes, hoarseness, trouble breathing and swallowing.

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The vast majority of thyroid nodules are not malignant and are not associated with more serious complaints. Nonetheless, if you find changes in your thyroid area, see your doctor - either your family doctor or an endocrinologist straight away - to determine the next steps together.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Thyroid cancer

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Although the incidence in Poland is quite low (about 1,700 new cases per yearand), thyroid cancer is assumed to account for 1% of all malignant tumours.

The incidence of thyroid cancer in Poland is quite low (about 1,700 new cases per yearand).

The disease may be asymptomatic for years. Alarming symptoms should be:

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  • thyroid nodules,
  • .
  • rapidly increasing neck circumference,
  • .
  • enlarged and hard lymph nodes in the neck,
  • .

Over time, neck pain, persistent hoarseness, breathing and swallowing problems, diarrhoea, bone pain and abnormal fractures may occur, among other symptoms.

  • The symptoms may include a pain in the neck, persistent hoarseness, breathing and swallowing problems, diarrhoea, bone pain and abnormal fractures.

    Thyroid cancer can be treated with:

    • surgical surgery,
    • .
    • radioactive iodine,
    • .
    • chemotherapy,
    • .
    • radiotherapy,
    • .
    • pharmacotherapy,
    • .

    As with other cancers, the prognosis of thyroid cancer depends on the type of cancer, the speed of diagnosis, the stage of the disease and the treatment undertaken.

    The prognosis of thyroid cancer depends on the type of cancer, the speed of diagnosis, the stage of the disease and the treatment undertaken.

    Thyroid disease and sex life and motherhood

    .

    Malfunctioning of the thyroid gland also has implications for our sexuality, fertility and motherhood.

    Thyroid problems and menstruation

    .

    The many functions of the thyroid gland include the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Hypothyroidism causes menstruation to become heavy, painful and irregular - it can even disappear for several months.

    Hypothyroidism can cause menstruation to become heavy, painful and irregular - it can even disappear for several months.

    In cases of hyperthyroidism, excessive amounts of thyroid hormones cause an increase in SHBGand, leading to a halt in ovulation. As a result, menstrual periods are less and less regular, and if they do occur, they are not very heavy.

    For this reason, many women also have problems getting pregnant.

    Libido, fertility and conception

    .

    Thyroid problems have a direct impact on hormone managementand, sex life and fertility in both women and men:

    • hypothyroidism-related dysfunctions are more common in men (59-63%) than in women (22-46%);
    • .
    • sexual dysfunction associated with hyperthyroidism is also more common in men (48-77%) than in women (44-60%);
    • .
    • in men, ejaculation and erectile dysfunction (premature ejaculation in hyperthyroidism, delayed ejaculation in hypothyroidism), as well as semen quality problems (reduced sperm production and motility) were prevalent;
    • .
    • Females most commonly reported impaired desire, impaired arousal, sense of pleasure and orgasm, and pain during intercourse;
    • .

    Taking appropriate treatment and achieving euthyroidism, a state of hormonal balance, leads to significant improvements in function and sexual satisfaction in women and men.

    The Polish Society of Endocrinology has issued its recommendations for couplesand who suffer from thyroid problems and want to try to have offspring. The most important of these is to do detailed thyroid tests and take treatment before trying for a child.

    Thyroid and pregnancy

    .

    Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can occur during pregnancy. Ignoring the symptoms and not treating them can have serious consequences for both mother and baby - including after birth.

    The impact of hypothyroidism on pregnancy

    Pregnancy can have serious consequences for both mother and baby.

    Effects on mother and foetus

    .

    For the first three months, the baby takes up all the thyroid hormones from the mother. In the case of hypothyroidism, it will receive too few of them, which will result in, among other things, problems with growth or the development of the brain and nervous system.

    The effects of hypothyroidism on the mother and fetus will be very significant.

    Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid problems can leadand to:

    • miscarriage,
    • .
    • preterm birth,
    • .
    • pre-eclampsia (a dangerous increase in blood pressure in advanced pregnancy),
    • .
    • thyroid storm,
    • .
    • asthmatic heart failure,
    • .
    • anemia,
    • .
    • low birth weight babies,
    • .

    Importantly - up to 5% of women experience a change in thyroid function after the birth of their childand. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. It is usually transient and symptoms resolve within 12-18 months, and if the fluctuations in test results are not great, it is usually not even necessary to take any medication.

    Unfortunately, there are also cases where hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism will persist permanently - which is why regular hormone testing is so important to control the situation.

    See also:

    Thyroid and mental health

    .

    Thyroid disorders and diseases can also negatively affect our mental health. Until recently, this was not talked about much, but it is now known that both excess and deficiency of thyroid hormones can cause:

    • anxiety,
    • .
    • irritability,
    • .
    • mood swings,
    • .
    • emotional instability,
    • .
    • insomnia and sleep problems,
    • .
    • concentration disorders,
    • .
    • memory problems,
    • .
    • chronic fatigue,
    • .
    • depression,
    • .

    In severe and late-diagnosed cases (especially in Graves-Basedow disease), apathy and psychosis may develop, which is also combined with paranoia. Delaying treatment can lead to irreversible brain changes.

    .
    Sometimes psychiatric symptoms can be so intense that they may suggest a primary psychiatric disorder rather than hypothyroidism in the first place.
    .
    Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

    Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

    .
    .

    See also:

    .

    How to diagnose thyroid disease - key tests

    .

    Key thyroid tests are included in so-called thyroid packages or thyroid profiles, which are available in two versions - basic and extended.

    Basic thyroid tests include:

    • measurement of TSH concentrations,
      • determination of FT3 and FT4.
      • measurement of FT3 and FT4.
        • basic thyroid tests include

        In addition to those previously mentioned, the extended package also includes:

        • determination of TSH levels,
        • determination of FT3 and FT4.
          • anti-TPO assay - helps in the diagnosis of Hashimoto's or Graves-Basedow's disease;
          • .
          • Anti-TG test - helps diagnose autoimmune diseases and also controls patients with thyroid cancer;
          • Trab test - confirms the diagnosis of Graves-Basedow disease;
          • .

          Because thyroid disease can be associated with other conditions, it is also worthwhile to do additional complementary tests:

          • USG of the thyroid gland with a possible biopsy if nodules are found in the examination,
          • Blood chemistry.
          • Blood morphology,
          • Blood profile
          • lipid profile,
          • .
          • measurement of homocysteine concentration,
          • .
          • measurement of iron concentration,
          • .
          .
          Thyroid examinations - both basic and extended - are worth doing at least once a year. Thyroid ultrasound at least once every two years. This needs to be observed especially if there is a family history of thyroid disease.
          .
          Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

          Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

          .
          .

          For more information about thyroid tests, their process, basic indicators and prices, see the article: Thyroid tests - what to do and why they are so important

          .

          Diet in thyroid disease

          .

          With dietician and personal trainer, Marta Kaczorek, we have prepared some specific tips that you can implement in yourself practically from now on.

          There are a number of things you need to know about thyroid disease.

          A frequent symptom of thyroid disease is anaemia, which is why it is worth taking care to include products rich in:

          in your daily diet.
          • iron - red meat, poultry, egg yolks, cocoa, beetroot, nuts, dried apricots, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, whole grain bread, green leafy vegetables;
          • vitamin B12 - liver, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy products;
          • folic acid - green leafy vegetables, white beans, parsley (parsley and root), eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sesame;
          • .
          .
          Overweight and obese people need to reduce their body weight, which will further help to normalise TSH and FT3 levels.
          .
          Marta Kaczorek.

          Marta Kaczorekclinical nutritionist and personal trainer

          .
          .

          It is also worth including foods rich in:

          into your diet.
          • vitamin B1 (e.g. eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts) - these will help combat chronic fatigue;
          • .
          • omega-3 acids and iodine (e.g. cod, pollock, salmon, smoked mackerel);
          • zinc (e.g. wheat bran, flax seeds, pumpkin, egg yolks) - needed by Hashimoto's patients;
          • .
          • selenium (e.g. salmon, mussels, cereal products, dairy products, Brazil nuts);
          • .

          Take some more black cumin oil - it positively affects thyroid function and regulates bad cholesterol and blood glucose.

          People with a diseased thyroid gland should be mindful of so-called gointrogens, or goitrogenic substances, which interfere with iodine absorption. Their intake should be limited, and you will find them in, among other things:

          • brassica vegetables (e.g. cabbage or Brussels sprouts),
          • cruciferous vegetables
          • cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, kale or liquorice),
          • cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, kale or liquorice)
          • legumes (mainly in soya),
          • .
          • herbs,
          • .
          • bruvia,
          • .
          • peanuts,
          • .
          • gourd,
          • .

          Restriction does not mean you have to give up these products completely!

          Goitrogens are volatile compounds and heat treatment reduces their amount by up to 30%. Just make sure you cook your favourite foods uncovered and make sure you get the right dose of selenium and iodine, and you can eat them without worry.

          Diet.

          Diet is also important in the context of treating thyroid disease.

          For Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism, you can increase the effectiveness of levothyroxine as long as you remember to take it properly.

          .
          The absorption of l-thyroxine will be better if you take it in the morning, on an empty stomach, accompanied by vitamin C. It is best to sip the preparation with low-mineralised water with a low calcium content.
          .
          Marta Kaczorek.

          Marta Kaczorek clinical nutritionist and personal trainer

          .
          .

          In order not to interfere with the absorption of the drug, after taking it, avoid:

          .
          • soy products,
          • .
          • coffee (for at least 30 minutes),
          • .
          • grapefruit juice,
          • .
          • large amounts of dietary fibre,
          • fibre.
          • cereals and calcium-rich products (for at least 2 hours),
          • supplements and dietary supplements (for at least 2 hours),
          • fibre.
          • supplements and products rich in iron (for at least 2 hours).
          • .

          The absorption of levothyroxine can also be interfered with by coeliac disease, gastrointestinal disorders and lactose intolerance.

          Lactose intolerance.

          People with Hashimoto's very often suffer from hypersensitivity and intolerance to certain products, which cause annoying allergic reactions.

          Avoid products that can cause allergies. If you don't, you will expose your body to ongoing inflammation, which you want to get rid of by opting for treatment.

          There is no need to be afraid to do so.

          In thyroid disease, your diet should, above all, be varied, well-balanced and adapted to your condition. Avoid restrictive diets as they increase the risk of deficiencies of key elements and cause a stress response in the body, which can worsen the thyroid condition.

          Dietary diets are a good way to avoid thyroid disease.

          Supplementation

          .

          Optimally planned supplementation will help combat the symptoms of thyroid disorders. Find out which vitamins, minerals and micronutrients you need to pay special attention to - which ones to take care of and which ones to watch out for.

          Vitamin D

          .

          Research showsand that vitamin D deficiency is common in Hashimoto's disease. "Vitamin D deficiency can impair the conversion of T4 to T3, exacerbate thyroid autoimmunity, and cause a surge in anti-TPO antibodies," - warns Marta Kaczorek.

          Adequate vitamin D supplementation can slow the development of hypothyroidism, as well as reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.

          Vitamin K2

          .

          Helps the body maintain healthy bones and also improves the metabolism and absorption of vitamin D, deficiencies of which can occur in hypothyroidism.

          Find out more about the combination of vitamin D and K2 in the article: Vitamin D3K2 - need to combine? Properties and expert opinion

          Selenium

          .

          Make sure you get the right amount of selenium in your diet. You can also start supplementing it additionally. Selenium deficiency results in less T3 production and also reduces iodine uptake. "Before you start supplementation, check its concentration in your blood so you can choose the right dose," reminds the nutritionist and personal trainer.

          Zinc

          Zinc - like copper or selenium - is necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Its deficiency can cause hypothyroidism. Their correlation also works the other way round. Thyroid hormones are necessary for the absorption of zinc, so hypothyroidism can cause a deficiency of this component. Its supplementation is neededand to combat thinning and hair loss.

          See also:

          .

          Inositol

          .

          Inositol is a vitamin-like substance that was once erroneously called vitamin B8. It is primarily known for its positive effectsand on PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. However, a study is available which showed that a combination of selenium and inositol supplementation proved to be an effective treatment for Hashimoto's. In addition to improvingand test results, participants also noticed a marked improvement in their quality of life.

          Calcium

          .

          Calcium and the thyroid interact with each other. Calcium is a key component in the maintenance of bone health, proper blood clotting or muscle function, among other things. Its normal concentration is maintained by, among other things, the calcitonin produced by the thyroid gland.

          Calcium deficiency (hypocalcaemia) can be caused by hypothyroidism (e.g. after surgery). In the case of hyperthyroidism, there may be a significant elevation of this element as a result of weakened bones and the release of calcium ions.

          Calcium deficiency (hypocalcaemia) can be caused by a significant increase in calcium concentrations.

          Iron

          .

          Iron plays a key roleand in both the synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones. Deficiency of iron can lead to anaemia, which is a commonand symptom of hypothyroidism.

          Biotin

          .

          Biotin influences our metabolism, as well as the health of our hair or nails. However, a daily intake of at least 20 mgand of biotin can seriously interfere with thyroid test results. Its supplementation should therefore be discontinued at least 48 hours before the expected test.

          See also:

          .

          Melatonin

          .

          Melatonin is known for its antioxidant and sleep promoting properties. There are studiesand suggesting that its inclusion in the treatment of hypothyroidism may benefit symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

          See also:

          Plants, herbs and natural compounds

          .

          Learn which plants and compounds can help with thyroid problems and which are better avoided.

          Curcumin

          .

          Curcuma is an increasingly popular spice in Poland. Its regular use may reduceand the risk of goiter occurrence and development.

          See also:

          Ginger

          .

          Results show that daily consumption of 1000 mg of ginger powder in hypothyroid patients led to a reduction in symptoms such as weight gain, cold intolerance and dry skin.

          Green tea

          .

          Despite its many health-promoting properties, there is scientific evidence that suggests that the catechins present in green tea may have goitrogenic (goitrogenic) and antithyroid effects if consumed regularly in high doses.

          Melissa

          .

          Research suggests that lemon balm may be helpful in regulating hyperthyroidism. Melissa blocks TSH by binding to its receptors, thereby reducing the activity of thyroid hormone production

          Clove

          .

          Clove is thyroid-friendly primarily for its blood sugar metabolism. It helps fight inflammation, and also balances foods and meals rich in fats and carbohydrates.

          Caffeine

          .

          Caffeine and other caffeine-rich foods in excessive amounts can suggest symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as increased irritability and anxiety or accelerated heart rate.

          Moringa

          .

          Preliminary research suggests that an adequate dose of extract from Moringa leaves may help regulate symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

          Rhodiola rosea

          .

          Rhodiola rosea extract (Rhiodola rosea) is a popular adaptogen that stimulates the nervous system, supports the treatment of depression, increases productivity at work and helps eliminate fatigue - all features of clinical hypothyroidism.

          Maca root

          .

          Maca root has documented supportive effects on symptoms often experienced by people with thyroid disease. It improves libido, sexual drive, fertility and health bodiness, we feel more energy, the brain starts better function, stress resistance increases, and the effects of cortisol are balanced. However, it contains goitrogens that are goitrogenic, so care must be taken with its intake.

          White quinine

          .

          Research shows that quinquefoil extract has a positive effect on treating both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

          Nettle

          .

          Supplementation with nettle, such as by drinking an infusion, will help to reduce weight and get rid of accumulated water. "Nettle inhibits inflammation and autoimmune reactions, stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid and stimulates the secretion of FT3," - admits nutritionist, Marta Kaczorek

          Astaxanthin

          .

          Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring antioxidant that also has anti-inflammatory properties. It supports patients in heart disease, Parkinson's disease or cancer and eye disease, among other conditions.

          Astaxanthin is an antioxidant.

          Astaxanthin boosts the body's immune system, so care must be taken in taking it if you have problems with the autoimmune system, low blood pressure, osteoporosis, as well as endocrine disorders and problems with parathyroid gland function.

          Quercetin

          .

          It is the best studied flavonoid present in many fruits, vegetables and also in dietary supplements. It exhibits strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is recommended in many places on the web as a supportive agent in Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism.

          Preliminary studies show, however, that it can interfere with thyroid function and therefore great care must be taken in its supplemental or therapeutic use. In contrast, the results of an experiment published in 2020 and years give reason to believe that it will make it possible to regulate hyperthyroidism.

          .
          When you have Hashimoto's, beware of supplements that stimulate the immune system - you want to calm its Th1 response. So watch out for plants such as astragalus, alfalfa, ashwagandha, liquorice, lemon balm or echinacea. Instead, stimulate Th2-type immunity with anti-inflammatory products: curcumin, grape seed extract, green tea, quercetin or resveratrol - in sensible doses, of course
          .
          Marta Kaczorek.

          Marta Kaczorekclinical dietitian and personal trainer

          .
          .

          There are studies  that suggest CBD  may support thyroid health, and ashwagandha  benefits patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.

          See also:

          Remember that any radical change in daily nutrition, or additional supplementation, should be consulted with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.

          Thyroid and alcohol

          .

          Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious consequences for normal thyroid function and cause hypothyroid-like symptoms. Despite this, a directand effect of alcohol consumption on the occurrence of hypothyroidism has not been demonstrated. However, research is available suggesting that adequate  alcohol intake may reduce the risk of developing hypothyroidism, as well as the occurrence of nodules, will and thyroid cancer .

          The case is similar for hyperthyroidism. The results of a Danish study  suggest that a small amount of alcohol may have a protective effect and reduce the risk of overt hyperthyroidism.

          Alcohol is the third highestand risk factor for disease and disorders of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Abuse of alcohol can lead to dangerous complications, so we do not recommend using it as a preventative measure for thyroid disease.

          What about physical activity in thyroid disease?

          .

          There are many myths and unproven information circulating around physical activity for thyroid problems. Marta Kaczorek, clinical nutritionist and personal trainer, has prepared some tips to implement into your daily routine.

          Every movement counts!

          .

          People with Hashimoto's disease should take special care of what is known as NEAT, or energy expenditure associated with non-sporting activity. This includes even the smallest bit of movement - from cleaning, playing with the children and shopping, to walking and climbing stairs.

          The energy expenditure associated with non-sports activity should be taken into account.

          .
          If you work long hours at a computer, take a five-minute break every hour to walk around your office or room. It's a good idea to take a calli by standing or walking. If possible, get off the tram or bus early or leave your car a few streets early and take short walks on your way to work. Such activity supports weight loss well.
          .
          Marta Kaczorek.

          Marta Kaczorekclinical nutritionist and personal trainer

          .
          .

          Take regular exercise

          .

          Systematic exercise will help you lose weight, improve your fitness and overall well-being. Remember those exhilarating endorphins after a workout?"

          .

          Care for cardio-type sports - jogging, cycling, swimming pool - especially in the mornings.

          Training sessions should be tailored to your health and well-being. They must not be too long, too frequent or too intense. Especially if you are just starting out, this will prevent adequate recovery and, even worse, may adversely affect your test results. Training every two days will be optimal.

          Adjust your activity to your mood. Observe how your body behaves on a given day. If you feel the need - take it easy and do your workout tomorrow. Moderation and self-indulgence are very important.

          Take it easy.

          Focus on variety

          .

          Every workout - whether at the gym or at home - should be varied and involve the whole body.

          Every workout - whether at the gym or at home - should be varied and involve the whole body.

          Start with strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts, dumbbell presses lying or standing or the classic plank (plank). Then treat yourself to cardio in the form of running, cycling or an orbitrek. Finish off with functional exercises such as kettlebell swings, medicine ball throws or barbell throws.

          .

          First accuracy, then kilos

          .

          Anyone who is just starting to train after being diagnosed with a medical condition should approach it prudently and gently - even if the main motivation is to shed a tyre or get rid of a few excess kilos.

          First focus on accuracy, then the kilos.

          First, focus on the movement itself and the accuracy of the exercises performed. Only then do more repetitions, increase the pace and add more weights.

          And now the most important thing.

          And now the most important thing...

          .

          You can train anything!

          .

          Whether you suffer from Hashimoto's, have an overactive or underactive thyroid - you can train anything you like. There are no restrictions or contraindications. There is only one caveat.

          Observe your body. There is no room for a rigid training plan here, because every day things can change. Worse moods or test results can make a whole week go by with light cardio and non-sporting activities.

          Well, that's not a bad thing.

          Is this a bad thing? Not at all! Every activity counts, and in all of this, your health is the most important thing, not the execution of your training plan.

          Prevention.

          Prevention of thyroid disease - key indications

          .

          In most cases, thyroid disorders are very difficult to prevent. All because the autoimmune diseases that are mainly responsible for them (Hashimoto's and Graves-Basedow's diseases) have a genetic basis. Unfortunately, this is beyond our control.

          This is why systematic preventive examinations and a healthy lifestyle are so important: free from stimulants and addictions, with a well-balanced diet based on fresh and seasonal ingredients, and with a daily dose of exercise.

          Summary

          .
          .

          From this article, remember that:

          • The thyroid gland is a gland that regulates the most important functions and processes in the human body, including respiration, metabolism, thermogenesis, skin condition or fertility.
          • The thyroid gland is a gland that regulates the most important functions and processes in the human body, including respiration, metabolism, thermogenesis, skin condition or fertility.
          • Thyroid disorders and diseases are recognised as diseases of civilisation - 20% of the population in Poland alone suffers from them.
          • .
          • Thyroid diseases affect women more often than men.
          • .
          • The most common thyroid diseases are Hashimoto's disease, Graves-Basedow's disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, nodules and goitre, as well as thyroiditis and thyroid cancer.
          • Thyroid disorders are considered to be civilised diseases - 20% of the population is affected by them.
          • Thyroid disorders are more common in women than men.
          • Thyroid disorders produce physical, psychological and neurological symptoms.
          • .
          • Hormonal and imaging tests are needed in the diagnosis of thyroid diseases - sometimes complementary tests such as biopsy, scintigraphy, blood count, lipidogram or homocysteine determination are needed.
          • .
          • In the treatment of thyroid disorders - in addition to specific therapy - a healthy balanced diet, supplementation selected by a specialist, and physical activity appropriate to the condition are important.
          • .

          FAQ

          .
          . What hormone stimulates thyroid function?.

          Thyroid function is regulated by the pituitary gland, more specifically by the thyroid hormone it produces, namely thyrotropin (TSH).

          . Which doctor to contact with a diseased thyroid gland?.

          If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, see your GP first, who will order thyroid tests and refer you to an endocrinologist. You may wish to see this specialist straight away. It is then best to go for an appointment with the results of an extended package of thyroid tests.

          . When do we talk about hyperthyroidism and when do we talk about hypothyroidism?.

          Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the gland produces more hormones than we need. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is the opposite condition - the thyroid gland produces too few hormones.

          . Is it possible to go from hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism?.

          It is not possible for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in the human body to occur simultaneously.

          . Can hypothyroidism be cured?.

          This is only possible in cases of temporary hypothyroidism (e.g. drug-induced or postnatal). Almost all people diagnosed with hypothyroidism receive treatment and ongoing medical care for the rest of their lives.

          . What hormones does the thyroid produce?.

          Two hormones are most commonly referred to - triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin, which is responsible for calcium-phosphate metabolism.

          . Are thyroid problems hereditary?.

          The autoimmune thyroid diseases Hashimoto's disease and Graves-Basedow's disease are genetically determined. If you have a confirmed family history of these conditions, do regular check-ups - this will enable early diagnosis and the prescription of effective therapy.

          . Raynaud's phenomenon and the thyroid.

          Raynaud's phenomenon is a vasomotor disorderand which manifests as fading, cyanosis and redness mainly in the fingers and toes, less commonly in the nose or earlobes. It is accompanied by pain and numbness. It may be an indicationand for early detection of hypothyroidism.

          . De Quervain's disease and the thyroid.

          De Quervain's disease is a subacute thyroiditis that has a viral origin. It is most often preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection. Subacute thyroiditis has several phases and symptoms resolve spontaneously after 8-16 weeks. In about 20%and a relapse is observed - even after many years of dormancy.

          . Can an enlarged thyroid gland shrink?

          An enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter, is a symptom, not a condition. An enlarged thyroid gland will not shrink on its own. Treatment selected for the nature and cause of the goiter is needed - it may be due to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

          . Can my thyroid gland suffocate me?.

          An enlarged thyroid gland can press heavily on the trachea. This can give rise to pain, swallowing problems, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.

          . How to recognise an enlarged thyroid gland?.

          The goiter may not give any symptoms. Alarming symptoms are pain felt in the front of the neck and in the throat, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing or sudden shortness of breath and enlarged lymph nodes. The best test to show hypertrophy is an imaging study, or ultrasound of the thyroid gland - the result is superimposed on a template.

          . Can thyroid diseases in children be cured?

          Thyroid diseases in children - both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism - as in adults, are often chronic conditions and will require lifelong treatment.

          Can thyroid diseases in children be cured?
          . Can the thyroid grow back?".

          Although the thyroid gland is considered a non-regenerative organ, after total thyroid surgery, or thyroidectomy, there is a smalland likelihood that the thyroid parenchyma may regrow and a so-called "regrowth goitre" may develop and even produce hormones.

          Can the thyroid grow back?
          . What does a too-small thyroid mean?.

          According to researchers, a thyroid gland that is too small can be linkedand to the onset of hypothyroidism. This is an extremely important issue especially for women planning a pregnancy. Based on the findings, it is suggested that thyroid ultrasound should be performed in addition to routine TSH testing - both for pregnant women and those planning to have offspring.

          . Thyroid and skin allergy.

          The skin is the largest organ of our body and all thyroid-related problems will also be visible on it. Spots on the skin, itching or pimples are not necessarily a symptom of an allergic reaction to a particular food or environmental factor. If you are experiencing long-lasting or periodic skin changes, it is worth considering both allergy and thyroid disease diagnostics.

          . Is it worth drinking yeast if you have a thyroid condition?.

          B vitamins are important for people with hypothyroidism because they affect thyroid function and regulate hormones. Yeast is a rich source of these, which is why some nutritionists recommend drinking yeast. You will also find B vitamins in nuts, dairy products, fish, eggs or whole grain products.

          .
          .

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