General Health

Thyroid disorders: Understanding in detail

According to several epidemiological studies, nearly 200 million people across the world have some or the other form of thyroid disease. In major cases, the disease can also lead to thyroid cancer. It has been one of the leading reasons that have led to a surge in the global mortality and morbidity rates to quite a considerable extent. 

What are thyroid disorders?

Thyroid disorders are described as a group of syndromes that develop due to malfunction of the thyroid gland. These abnormalities cause increased or decreased secretion of the thyroid hormones. The reduced secretion of thyroid hormones results in hypothyroidism and increased secretion leads to hyperthyroidism.

There are other medical conditions associated with the dysfunction of the thyroid glands such as Thyroid nodules, Grave's disease, Goitre, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Thyroid cancer.

Read on to check out if you're experiencing any of these signs and symptoms for each of the thyroid diseases.


It is a disorder caused when the thyroid gland produces and secretes less thyroid hormones. The reduced activity of the thyroid gland releases insufficient amounts of T3 or triiodothyronine and T4 or thyroxine. These hormones are very important for healthy metabolic activities. In about 95% of cases, hypothyroidism that results in dysfunction of thyroid glands is called primary hypothyroidism. In other cases such as radiation therapy or birth defects, hypothyroidism may result in some primary clinical conditions and the condition is referred to as secondary hypothyroidism.

Causes of primary hypothyroidism:

  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Birth defects
  • Iodine deficiencies in the regular diet
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Past surgeries of the thyroid gland
  • Medications like lithium carbonate, para-aminosalicylic acid, sulphonamides and phenylbutazone.

Causes of secondary hypothyroidism:

  • Reduced secretion of pituitary hormones
  • Reduced secretion of TRH (Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone)
  • Congenital defects
  • Tumours and other anatomical defects of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Swollen face and limbs are known as Oedema
  • Loss of hair
  • Loss of hearing
  • Coarse, dry and scaly pale skin
  • Hoarse voice
  • General body aches
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Anaemia
  • A drop of body temperature
  • Forgetful and confusion
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced pulse rate
  • Joint pain
  • Memory loss
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome ( abnormal pressure on the median nerve in the wrist resulting in numbness and of hands)


In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is overactive and hence produces thyroid hormones more than required. Estimatedly, it affects around 1 percent of women. One of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease that affects 70% of people with an overactive thyroid. A condition called toxic nodular goitre or multinodular goitre involves the development of nodules on the thyroid gland and causes it to overproduce the hormones. 

The symptoms of excessive production of thyroid hormones:

  • Restlessness 
  • Nervousness
  • Racing heart 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking 
  • Increased sweating 
  • Insomnia
  • Brittle hair and nails 
  • Weakness of muscles 
  • Bulging eyes(graves’ disease)
  • Drastic loss of weight


It is a pathological condition characterised by the abnormal enlargement of thyroid glands resulting in an increased or reduced production of thyroid hormones. Some of the primary causes of goitre are:

  • Iodine deficiency 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Inflammation
  • Graves’ Disease 
  • Hashimoto’s Disease
  • Multinodular goitre 

Grave’s Disease

It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland resulting in an increased secretion of thyroid hormones. Undiagnosed goitre or even when goitre is left untreated, it may lead to several reproductive complications in women including premature delivery and even miscarriage. 

Thyroid nodules

There is development of several nodules on the thyroid gland. These are fluid-filled lumps observed on both sides of the thyroid gland either in groups or even singly. These nodules may be benign or malignant. Malignant thyroid nodules can result in three types of cancers-

  • Epithelial cancer 
  • Medullary cancer 
  • Anaplastic cancer

Thyroid disorders can get extremely serious if left undiagnosed or untreated. Make sure that you always maintain a healthy weight and prevent getting obese or overweight. Keep yourself hydrated for a healthy metabolism and consume high amounts of fibre as the thyroid can cause digestive disorders. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as much as possible and do not forget your regular TSH test.

Also Read: 5 ways to keep cholesterol low

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