The thyroid is an endocrine gland of fundamental importance for the good health of our body. Located in the lower part of the neck, anteriorly, between the larynx and the trachea, upon stimulation of the pituitary gland, it secretes thyroid hormones, which contribute to the correct development of the organism and to the regulation of metabolic processes. However, there is often talk of malfunctions of the same that heavily affect the quality of life of those affected.
Thyroid dysfunctions: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
Professor Andrea Lania, head of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Medical Andrology at Humanitas explains that dysfunctions of the thyroid gland can be of two types: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The first is a pathology that implies an excessive secretion of thyroid hormones, with a consequent acceleration of the metabolic processes that these regulate, and the typical symptoms are fatigue, weight loss, feeling of restlessness and irritability, tremors and intolerance to heat. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, causes a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, psychomotor slowdown, difficulty concentrating, worsening mood and intolerance to cold. It is important to intervene promptly once an irregularity in the functioning of the gland is found to restore the balance of metabolic processes and ensure the disappearance of symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism: the treatments
Hyperthyroidism affects women in particular and is associated with some autoimmune diseases, inflammatory forms, as well as thyroid nodules. The treatment for hyperthyroidism is diversified on the basis of the patient’s age, the causes that caused the disorder and the severity of its manifestations. The treatments therefore range from drug therapy, to metabolic radiotherapy (radioiodine therapy), and finally thyroidectomy surgery in case there is a goiter (uni or multinodular) of such size as to cause compression disorders. Patients with hyperthyroidism must also pay attention to their diet, limiting foods that contain iodine (such as salt, seaweed, fish and shellfish), as well as drugs, supplements and cosmetics in which it may be present in more or less high percentages. It is also necessary to periodically check the level of calcium and vitamin D and, in case of deficiency, to correct them: among the long-term consequences of hyperthyroidism, in fact, there is osteopenia which can in turn worsen and become osteoporosis.
Hypothyroidism: drug therapy
The low level of thyroid hormones of hypothyroidism causes the slowdown of many metabolic processes, from the development of the nervous system (in the newborn), to the functioning of the cardiovascular system, of the basal and lipid metabolism. If not treated properly it can significantly worsen the patient’s quality of life. It is a disorder that can either be congenital or develop in adulthood in association with other diseases, such as autoimmune thyroiditis, specific therapies or removal of the thyroid. Therapy for hypothyroidism is pharmacological and replacement therapy and involves the intake of levothyroxine, the main thyroid hormone. The dosage of the drug depends mainly on the clinical condition of the patient and may vary over time, but its intake, from the moment of the start of therapy, will continue for the rest of the patient’s life. a consequent improvement in the patient’s quality of life and in the tone of his mood. Hypothyroidism cannot be prevented, but it is advisable to always remember that a balanced diet, with an adequate intake of iodine helps the proper functioning of the thyroid.