Not many are sure what the thyroid does in the human body.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of our neck, just below Adam’s apple. The two main hormones produced by it are iodine (containing hormones Thyroxine or T4) and Triiodothyronine (or T3) that circulate in the body through the bloodstream and work on every living tissue and cell. TSH, a thyroid-stimulating hormone, is produced by the pituitary that stimulates the thyroid gland.
The normal or healthy range for T3, T4, and TSH will vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory, depending on the kind of tests, brand of reagents and analyzers used for the measurement of the hormones.
According to Thyrocare, the values are:
Triiodothyronine (T3): 60-200 ng/dL
Thyroxine (T4): 4.5-12 µg/dL
Thyroid stimulating Hormone (TSH): 0.30-5.50 µ IU/ml
When you get your medical reports, this is what you will see. Any amount below or above the given range needs medical advice.
But remember, no single laboratory test is 100 per cent accurate in diagnosing all types of thyroid disease. A combination of two or more tests can detect abnormality of thyroid function. Treatment regimes for thyroid disorders are normally determined by regular blood tests and clinical observation.
Common thyroid conditions
There are certain problems associated with thyroid, the most common among the general population being Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of hormones (underactive thyroid), while it produces more (overactive thyroid) in the case of Hyperthyroidism.
The most common cause of this is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own antibodies attack the thyroid cells. Autoimmunity occurs when an organism or body fails to recognize its own constituent parts, thereby turning against its own cells and tissues. It is a state where immune cells in your body mistake your own organs, cells or glands as intruders and attack them. Autoimmunity can work against any organ. It could be auto-immunity of the stomach or joints, and when it acts on the thyroid gland, we call it auto-immune thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism is found more often in women than men and can be missed in its early stages because of its very insidious onset with symptoms, which can simulate many other diseases. In the beginning of the development of clinical hypothyroidism, even before the TSH level is high enough to warrant treatment, the body’s metabolism can slow down. This means fewer calories burned each day, and even those few calories start to add up.
Hypothyroidism brings in lethargy, which makes regular exercise even more troublesome and the vicious cycle sets in. It occurs when the body’s metabolism is too slow due to an absence or deficiency of the thyroid hormone. The good news is, it can be easily treated, as it requires a replacement of hormones through medication and the regular monitoring of blood levels of the hormones.
This occurs when an excess of thyroid hormone produces symptoms of abnormally high metabolism, either due to an overactive thyroid gland or taking too much thyroid hormone replacements like medicines. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease — an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks its own thyroid gland, causing it to overproduce the Thyroxine hormone.
There are three options for treatment namely: medical, surgical and radioactivity. An experienced and trained physician would be the best judge to offer the appropriate form of treatment especially if the problem is further complicated with pregnancy. Some of the symptoms in pregnancy also mimic those manifested with thyroid dysfunction.
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