The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. It carries out an important role in the body’s processes, such as regulating heart rate, body weight, temperature, menstrual cycles, nervous systems and cholesterol. Thus, an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can greatly affect one’s ability to carry out basic functions.
The thyroid gland uses iodine from food we eat to make triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These two hormones should be balanced as an imbalance can cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
Elevated cholesterol levels
Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
Unintentional weight loss
Fatigue or muscle weakness
Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
Tremor, usually in the hands and fingers
Treatment for thyroid problems starts by first identifying the underlying problem and restoring the balance of thyroid hormones using medication. If you have hypothyroidism, you will need hormone replacement, while you will need medication to slow down thyroid hormone production if you have hyperthyroidism. More complex cases may require further scans or surgery to remove the thyroid gland altogether as a last resort.
If hypothyroidism is not managed properly, it may lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart failure, renal complications, infertility, muscle weakness or nerve injury and increase the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy.
If hyperthyroidism is not managed properly, you may experience heart problems, brittle bones, eye problems, red and swollen skin and thyrotoxic crisis.
Suffering caused by negligence or inadequate management of thyroid conditions and additional healthcare costs in the event of health complications can be avoided by taking charge of your chronic condition and actively seeking treatment to keep it well-managed.