Thyroid problems explained
Problems with the thyroid gland are more often associated with women than with men. It is a fact, however, that men can fall victim to such problems just as easily as women. The condition in men often arises because of lack of sleep and high levels of stress; this causes the gland to overcompensate bringing on the symptoms associated with an overactive thyroid.
The thyroid gland is in the throat, located at the front of the neck just above where the collarbones meet. Part of the endocrine system, the thyroid secretes hormones and other products directly to the blood. When it works normally, it maintains the body’s metabolism and keeps the hormone balance in check. When it malfunctions, however, it produces too much or too little of what are known as thyroid hormones – and this imbalance can cause a range of problems. There are two main thyroid disorders – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism (too much and too little respectively).
Types of thyroid problems
Broadly speaking, hyperthyroidism occurs when an excess of thyroid hormones is produced; when someone has this disorder their metabolism, or the chemical processes governing their body, is extremely high. At the other end of the spectrum, individuals who are affected by hypothyroidism find that their metabolism slows right down.
Symptoms and signs of thyroid problems
Men with hyperthyroidism often have anxiety issues and experience a fast heart rate; they have difficulty gaining weight and may also have sleeping problems. Typically, their nutrition will suffer and they will have an increased sensitivity to heat. Hyperthyroidism is linked with Graves’ disease, which can cause goiters, vision and eye problems, plus a thickening of the skin.
Hypothyroidism results in an extremely low rate of hormone production, which makes it difficult to lose weight. Exhaustion, heavy menstrual periods in women sufferers, and unexplained muscle stiffness and pain are also symptoms. Hypothyroidism is associated with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto thyroiditis, in which glandular tissue is not recognized by the body as benign and is therefore attacked.
Determining thyroid levels is an important start in treating an overactive or underactive thyroid. Analysis of a blood sample can evaluate thyroid functions and provide information that will enable a physician to decide on which treatments are most appropriate. Nowadays there are opportunities for on-demand blood tests at Health Testing Centers and also lab tests online via healthtestingcenters.com. Results are usually available within one to two days and experienced medical professionals are on hand to answer queries or discuss health concerns.
An underactive thyroid is usually treated with a daily hormone replacement pill, Levothyroxine. Blood levels are monitored regularly until thyroid levels are normal. It is important to follow the advice of a healthcare practitioner in regards to the length of time and the correct dosage. In some cases it is necessary to continue taking Levothyroxine, even when feeling well.
Overactive thyroid can be treated with a number of different medications, depending on the cause and severity of the symptoms. A doctor will often prescribe a specific type of antithyroid drug according to the age and medical history of the patient. Examples of possible treatments include the drugs Propylthiouracil, Methimazole and Propanolol or other beta-blockers. Treatment using radioactive iodine (radioiodine) actively stops the excess production of hormones, and surgery to remove the thyroid gland is also sometimes necessary, in which case patients need to take hormone replacement pills daily for the rest of their lives.
Men that suspect they may have a problem with their thyroid should consult a doctor immediately, as the gland can become cancerous.
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