Small but powerful. Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland placed in the neck, above the collarbone. It controls many of the body's most important functions and produces hormones that affect breathing, heart rate, digestion and body temperature. Then we answer six key questions about this gland necessary for human metabolism.
What are the thyroid problems?
When we talk about thyroid dysfunctions, the most known are: overactive thyroid (when the thyroid produces more thyroid hormones than the body's needs). And hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone). But they are not the only ones. In addition, there are other problems, such as goiter, or an enlarged thyroid; also, thyroid cancer and nodules: thyroid papules. A thyroiditis: thyroid edema.
What are the main symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism?
"The most characteristic symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: lack of muscle strength, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, palpitations, eye changes (bulges of eyes) and goiter, among others" – says Ana María Orlandi, head of thyroid section in the endocrine unit Álvarez Hospital and chairman of the Argentine Society Endocrinology and Metabolism.
And highlights the most characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism: fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, severe constipation, drowsiness, generalized swelling, dry skin and delicate nails, among others. "In both cases, the symptoms may be rare in subclinical or severe disease when the consultation or diagnosis is delayed, and the changes take place," he says.
What is subclinical thyroid disease?
Subclinical hyperthyroidism is a picture of mild or monosymopathic hyperthyroidism, characterized by low TSH and normal peripheral hormones (T4 and T3). Conversely, subclinical hypothyroidism is a mild degree of thyroid insufficiency that occurs with elevated levels of TSH and normal peripheral hormones.
And how is it treated?
The treatment of these conditions depends on the age of the patient, biological moment, relationship with pregnancy, search for fertility and other conditions. "Given these factors, treatment can be postponed, started gradually or in the same way as thyroid disease," says Orlandi.
These diseases affect women more often than men. Is it like that? Why?
"Although the cause and effect relationship is not clearly demonstrated, it is thought that if women have 2 X chromosomes, they would potentially receive a double genetic dose of sensitivity." This seems to be more clear in autoimmune thyroid diseases, "the expert explains.
And how else do these diseases affect the health of women?
In changes in the menstrual cycle. Thyroid helps control the menstrual cycle. Depending on the amount of thyroid hormone, periods can be very rare, long-lasting or irregular. Thyroid disease can also cause the menstrual period to disappear for several months or even longer.
Does it cause difficulties in conceiving?
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can make it difficult to get pregnant. This is because thyroid hormone problems can change the balance of ovulation hormones. Several studies have reported a higher incidence of clinical or subclinical thyroid failure in infertile women compared to control women. But there is no data so far that can show the actual incidence of infertility in these women.
Does it cause problems during pregnancy?
Abnormal functioning of the thyroid during pregnancy can cause health problems for mother and child. For example, pregnancies in women with hypothyroidism are associated with a greater number of abortions and / or premature births, according to experts. Therefore, it is important to have control to rule out or detect problems before and during pregnancy.
What is post-natal thyroiditis?
It is based on thyroiditis after giving birth and will affect 10 percent of women. People with post-natal thyroiditis often feel depleted and tuned. It is important to know that this condition usually goes unnoticed because the symptoms are very similar to postnatal depression. It can also be premature menopause. If the immune system causes thyroid disease, other glands, such as the ovaries, may be at risk. It can cause early menopause (the cycle ends before the age of 40).
LA NACIÓN (Argentina) – GDA