“What is thyroid?” It is one of the frequently asked questions about the thyroid, which is generally referred to as a disease name. Although often referred to as a disease, the thyroid is actually an organ located in front of the trachea. The most important function of this organ, which has a structure similar to the letter U or H and resembles a butterfly with this structure, is to produce hormones that are effective in the regulation of many functions in the body. These hormones are T3 (triiodothyronine), T4 (thyroxine) and calcitonin. The thyroid, which produces, stores and releases these hormones when necessary, is the size of a walnut and weighs 15-20 grams. These secreted hormones stimulate the organ or related system via blood circulation. The regularity of the functions of the thyroid gland affects the metabolic processes of the body and is very important for health. The functions of the thyroid gland that produce, store and release hormones are also controlled by the pituitary gland.
It is a glandular organ located just below the cartilage structure called the Adam's apple, which is known as prominentia laryngea in the medical literature. This organ, which offers an extremely important function for the body, moves up and down with the swallowing action of the person. On the lateral sides of the thyroid gland are arteries, known as the carotid artery. The thyroid gland is activated by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, which secretes the hormone TSH, reaches the thyroid gland by employing the circulatory system and triggers the production of hormones. The pituitary gland also increases hormone secretion when the thyroid gland decreases hormone secretion. For this reason, in thyroid disease, also known as hypothyroidism, the level of TSH hormone is high, but the level of T3 and T4 hormones secreted by the thyroid gland is low. In order to diagnose the thyroid disorders experienced, the TSH hormone, which makes it possible for the thyroid gland to retain iodine, is measured in a laboratory environment. If the thyroid hormone is secreted at a sufficient level, a decrease in the TSH level in the blood is observed and this is called thyroid disease. This condition, which is caused by the overactivity of the thyroid gland, is defined as hyperthyroidism.
Commands from the pituitary gland are transmitted to the thyroid gland by the hormone TSH. The TSH hormone is transmitted to the thyroid gland by blood, and then the secretion of T3, T4 hormones begins. Thyroid hormones play a role in both the correct functioning of the metabolism and the strengthening of the body's immune system. In addition, the thyroid gland takes an active role with the hormones it secretes in cases such as maintaining the body's heat balance, heart rate and converting food into energy. The thyroid gland also provides balancing of brain development before and after birth. In addition to all these, the thyroid gland also adjusts the protein, fat and sugar mechanism in the bodies of adults.
An enlarged thyroid gland for some reason is one of the benign thyroid conditions. Thyroid enlargement, also called goiter, can occur in only one part of the thyroid gland or in several parts. This growth may develop as budding in the inner or outer region of the gland. These growths showing budding are called nodules and the thyroid with changing structure is called nodular goiter. It is defined as a single nodule goiter when only a single thyroid nodule develops in the thyroid gland, and as a multiple nodular goiter in multiple formations. In addition, in some cases, there are cases where the thyroid gland grows more than normal into the chest cavity. This type of goiter enlargement is called substernal goiter. “What is Hashimoto’s?” in thyroid diseases. The answer to the question is also among the questions asked frequently. Another common condition in thyroid diseases in the benign group is thyroid inflammation. In this disease, also called Hashimoto's, there is a condition that causes the autoimmune system to deteriorate. In this disorder, which is called Hashimoto, the body's immune system perceives this inflamed thyroid gland as a foreign substance, and therefore, an imbalance in metabolism may occur.
Thyroid gland cancer is one of the malignant thyroid diseases. Cancer, which occurs in the cellular structure of the thyroid and arises as a result of the deterioration of these cells, is sometimes kept under control by simply monitoring and increasing the quality of life of the person. At this stage, it may be possible to carry out the treatment with medication, changes in the person's life, and the use of surgical methods. Thyroid cancers, called follicular and papillary, are cancers that are common in the community and can be treated at an early stage.
When the thyroid, one of the internal secretory glands of the body, cannot fulfill its functions, it creates many different health problems and some thyroid symptoms in line with these problems. Thyroid cancer symptoms are as follows:
- Weight loss / weight gain / inability to lose weight
- Palpitations / shaking hands
- Stillbirth / miscarriage / infertility
- Sudden irritability and outbursts of anger / depression
- Diarrhea / constipation
- Protrusion of the eyes
- Immediate fatigue
- Decreased sexual desire / low performance
- Irregular menstruation / painful menstruation
- Panic attack
- Swelling in the throat / feeling of being stuck / feeling of discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Very cold / excessive sweating / night sweats
- Breakage / peeling / splitting / staining of nails
- Sleep apnea / insomnia / snoring
- Hair loss / dandruff / dulling
- Disruption of heart rhythm
- Skin dryness
- Sound muting / bifurcation
People who have had thyroid disease in their family are at risk for diseases of the thyroid. In addition, people living in areas with iodine-deficient soils are also at high risk of developing thyroid diseases. Consumption of non-iodized salt can also lead to this condition. In addition, people who are exposed to radiation for some reasons are also prone to thyroid diseases.
In order to diagnose the disease in the early period it is necessary for people in the risk group to have hormone tests routinely performed in line with the complaints they experience. In case of any nodule formation in the thyroid gland, the situation evaluation is made with the joint opinion of Endocrinology, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Pathology units. Then, the examination of the nodules is assisted by the ultrasonographic imaging methods and it is determined whether the nodule contains a cancer risk. Drug treatment is also preferred for small nodules with a low risk of cancer. Needle biopsy is also used to search for cancer in the thyroid glands. This biopsy application is performed by the pathologist, general surgeon and radiologist together.
Iodine therapy is an effective method applied in cases where the thyroid gland works more than normal and after thyroid cancer operations. In this treatment, radioactive iodine is administered orally to the patient, and it is absorbed by the intestinal and gastric system. Iodine absorbed by the thyroid cells makes it easy for the thyroid gland to function normally. Iodine given to the patient with this method causes the thyroid cells that show excessive growth to lose this feature. Iodine therapy is also frequently used in goiter disease that occurs as a result of this overwork in the thyroid gland. The dose of radioactive iodine given in the treatment is low and the patient can go home after the treatment without having to stay overnight in the hospital. However, before this treatment, the patient should not consume certain foods, take medications and the patient should be hungry. Foods that patients should not consume before radioactive treatment can be listed as fish, carbonated drinks, shellfish and foods containing iodine. This treatment does not have any severe side effects, but it may rarely cause nausea in the person. In order to eliminate the side effects that may occur, the patient should consume plenty of water and get plenty of rest after iodine treatment.
Thyroid surgery is performed unilaterally or bilaterally, depending on the development of the disease. The operation is called thyroidectomy and the aim of the operation is the removal of the thyroid gland. In one-sided operations, the tissue in the problem area is removed, and in two-sided operations, the entire gland is removed. In addition, in some surgeries, lymph nodes are also removed. One of the biggest risks of these surgeries is the damage to the vocal cords of the patient. With this injury, hoarseness may occur in the person, and recovery usually takes a few weeks to a few months. However, in some cases, the vocal cords may not fully experience their former performance. After such situations, discomfort such as hoarseness, fatigue in the voice and inability to reach high tones may be experienced. Thanks to the medical techniques created with the developments in the field of technology, solutions can be created for these potential complications.