Thyroid diseases include a number of disorders that interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to function properly. Located in the neck, the thyroid is part of the endocrine system and makes hormones that control the body’s metabolism including heart rate and how fast calories are burned. Disruptions in the thyroid interfere with weight control, energy levels and sensitivity to heat or cold.
The various types of thyroid diseases each have their own causes, symptoms and treatment options. The disorders include:
- Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid
- Hyperhyroidism, an overactive thyroid
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Thyroid cancer
- Postpartum thyroiditis
Thyroid diseases affect women more often than men. They can affect menstruation and have implications for pregnancy. Children with hypothyroidism can experience different symptoms than adults. If untreated in newborns, it can lead to mental retardation and delays in development.
What is the prognosis of Thyroid Diseases?
Replacement hormone therapy often effectively relieves symptoms allowing a person to return to normal life. Most forms of thyroid cancer are very responsive to therapy with a positive outlook for most people. However, anaplastic thyroid cancer is difficult to diagnose, spreads quickly and is difficult to treat.
Hyperthyroidism is rarely fatal but may cause high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, both possibly serious conditions. Many complications, some severe, are associated with Graves’ disease and affect quality of life.