The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones; influences almost all the metabolic process of the body. Too much secretion of thyroid hormones results in hyperthyroidism. While insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.
Although the effect can be annoying and disagreeable, most thyroid hormones can be managed well if it is diagnosed and treated properly.
An overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) can occur in several ways:
An underproduction of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) can occur in several ways:
Untreated hypothyroidism for a long period of time can bring on a myxedema coma, a rare but potentially fatal condition that requires immediate hormone treatment.
Hypothyroidism is dangerous to newborns and infants. A lack of thyroid hormones at the early stage of development of the child may cause cretinism (mental retardation) and dwarfism (stunted growth). As in adults, in infants, hypothyroidism can be due to these causes:
The symptoms of a hypothyroid infant are unusually inactive and quiet, has a poor appetite, and sleeps for excessively long periods of time.
Thyroid cancer is quite rare and occurs in about 5% of thyroid nodules. One or more thyroid nodules for several years may be determined to be cancerous. People who have received radiation treatment to the head and neck earlier can tend to have a higher-than-normal risk of developing thyroid cancer.