The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the lower front of the neck that produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, regulate body temperature and maintain function of our body organs such as the brain, heart, gastrointestinal tract and muscles.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive and does not make enough thyroid hormones for the body's needs.
Low levels of thyroid hormone can affect the whole body, and may result in a slowing down of mental and physical functions.
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is daily intake of synthetic thyroid hormone (Levothyroxine) prescribed by your doctor. For Levothyroxine to be absorbed from the gut adequately, it is important to take Levothyroxine on an empty stomach, away from other medications and at least 60 minutes before food.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones for the body’s needs.
High levels of thyroid hormone can affect the whole body, and may result in increased body metabolic rate. The causes of hyperthyroidism include:
High level of thyroid hormones results in an increase in the body’s metabolism. Symptoms include:
The choice of treatment will depend on several factors such as your age, the type and severity of hyperthyroidism, other medical conditions that may be affecting your health, and your preference.
The available treatments options include:
Thyroid nodulesThyroid nodules are lumps in the thyroid gland. They can be of varying sizes, and may be solid and/or contains fluid. Thyroid nodules can produce excess hormones (see section on hyperthyroidism).
The cause of thyroid nodules is unknown. Thyroid nodules however are common and increases with age. Most thyroid nodules are harmless, but it is best to have them checked in case they are among the few that are cancerous.
Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms. There are some thyroid nodules that may produce excess amounts of thyroid hormone causing hyperthyroid symptoms (see section on hyperthyroidism).
Patients with benign thyroid nodules are usually monitored with ultrasound surveillance. Those with suspicious thyroid nodules are usually recommended for surgery.
The treatment of thyroid nodules that produce excess hormone (toxic thyroid nodule/toxic multinodular goitre) can be found under section on hyperthyroidism.