The incidence of thyroid diseases in women is higher than in men. Although the thyroid gland seems to have a minor function in the body, it plays a very important role in maintaining body health. An imbalance of thyroid hormones can adversely affect the functioning of different organs and systems in the body. Due to its deficiency or excess, problems such as weakness, weight gain or sudden weight loss, dullness, and hair loss may occur in the body. Therefore, thyroid treatment is a condition that must be given importance.
What are thyroid diseases?
Thyroid diseases are divided into benign and malignant types.
Malignant thyroid diseases are among the types of thyroid cancer that occur when cells in the thyroid gland cause cancer.
Malignant thyroid diseases are divided into two categories: thyroid cancer and "papillary" and "follicular" thyroid cancers.
Benign thyroid diseases occur due to more or less functioning of the thyroid gland or size differentiation.
We can examine the most common benign thyroid diseases as follows:
- Goiter: A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. We can observe it in two categories: nodular and non-nodular. In nodular goiter disease, the thyroid gland grows symmetrically, and its surface is smooth and soft. In nodular goiter, the thyroid gland is enlarged and also has a bumpy shape. There are multiple nodules in the thyroid gland. When there are many nodules, the risk of cancer is much lower than normal. While goiter does not lead to any diagnosis at times, it sometimes causes symptoms such as difficulty breathing and coughing.
- Hypothyroidism: It is a disease that occurs due to the inability of the thyroid glands to produce the hormones produced by the T3 and T4 hormones as much as they should. Hypothyroidism causes symptoms such as weakness in the body, constipation, dryness of the skin, irregular weight gain, intolerance to cold, and insomnia. There are various drug treatments for hypothyroidism.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland produces more than the body needs, causes the acceleration of organ functions. hyperthyroidism; symptoms such as heart palpitations, trembling hands and feet, involuntary weight loss, mood imbalances, sweating, diarrhea, hair loss, and body fatigue The treatment method is to slow down the production of hormones by producing thyroid medication.
What are the symptoms?
In cases of hyperthyroidism, where thyroid hormones are secreted excessively, the symptoms are:
- Warm and moist skin
- Intolerance to heat
- Weight loss (slimming despite a good appetite)
- Shaking hands
- Hair thinning, breakage, and shedding
- Thinning of the skin
- Persistent diarrhea
- Eye signs (enlarged eyes)
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Menstrual irregularity, lack of menstruation
- Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland)
Symptoms of hypothyroidism, where the thyroid hormones are underactive, include:
- Weakness, fatigue, and slowness of movement
- Depression and unhappiness
- Intolerance to cold environments
- Edema in the hands and feet
- Decreased sweating
- Abnormal weight gain, increased appetite
- Forgetfulness and decreased concentration
- Delayed puberty in boys
- Decreased or absent menstrual period and frequency in women
Apart from these, patients may notice swelling in their necks when the thyroid gland enlarges.
Who is at risk?
People with a family history of thyroid diseases are more susceptible to contracting diseases caused by disruption of the thyroid gland. Those living in regions with iodine deficiency in their soil are also in the risk group for thyroid diseases. Consumption of non-iodized salt may facilitate the formation of thyroid diseases, especially in people with a genetic predisposition. It is known that those who are exposed to excessive radiation for different reasons and those who consume drug ingredients such as lithium, interferon, and amiodarone are also prone to thyroid diseases.
Apart from this, we can list the people most affected by thyroid diseases as follows:
- Those living in iodine-deficient areas,
- Those with low iodine consumption,
- Women in menopause,
- Those exposed to radiation,
- Those who use drugs such as amiodarone, lithium, and interferon
What are thyroid diagnostic methods?
In the case of thyroid diseases, a manual examination is applied to the neck area by the doctor in the first place. Then the doctor may request a blood test, and TSH, T3, T4, and even thyroid autoantibodies in the body are examined if necessary. Apart from these, thyroid ultrasonography and scintigraphy are taken to see the structure of the thyroid gland and the presence of nodules. A needle biopsy can also be applied for a more detailed examination of the nodules.
What effects does thyroid disease have on the body? Does thyroid disease make you gain weight?
Thyroid diseases can cause weight gain. If there is a decrease in thyroid hormone secretion, the metabolism will slow down, energy burning will decrease, and excess energy will begin to turn into fat. The accumulation of water in the body and the formation of edema also increase weight.
Thyroid hormone, which is found to be deficient as a result of blood tests, is given to the patient, and it is possible to recover very quickly with this method. However, these patients are obliged to use drugs throughout their lives. There is no standard dose of thyroid hormone used in treatment. For this reason, the correct dose can be found with individual measurements and follow-ups for each patient.
Treatment of Thyroid Nodules
Treatment of thyroid nodules varies depending on the characteristics of the nodule. Sometimes, thyroid hormone therapy may be preferred with the aim of preventing the growth of nodules or shrinking the nodules.
If the nodules tend to grow in the thyroid ultrasonography applied to the patient, the needle biopsies are repeated. Patients with suspicious cells as a result of a needle biopsy are taken to surgery. In addition, there is a surgical option for patients who have shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing due to pressure on the trachea and esophagus.
Are thyroid surgeries risky? Will there be any scars in the operation area?
Like many branches of surgery, minimally invasive (less damaging) techniques are at the forefront of thyroid surgery today. With the developments in technology, thyroid surgery is done with the help of devices that close the veins without the need for stitches or ligation.
In suitable cases, it is possible to perform the surgery through a very small incision. This advanced technology uses high-frequency ultrasonic energy to remove the hydrogen bands in the proteins in the tissue.
Blood vessels close with less heat damage at a relatively low temperature (80°C). During thyroid surgery, it is possible to protect the nerve that goes to the vocal cords and the parathyroid organs that provide the body's calcium balance, which are likely to be injured, in an environment with less bleeding and relatively less heat.
Studies have shown that this method shortens the operation time compared to the classical method. In addition, since thyroid surgery can be terminated with less bleeding, the patient's need for pain relief after surgery can be reduced to a very low level. Avoiding large skin incisions naturally helps to have a more aesthetic appearance and quicker healing.
Patients often stay in the hospital for one night after surgery and are sent home the next day. There is no need for voice restriction after surgery. They can return to their normal lives in a short time. Since the incision is closed with an aesthetic method, there is no need for suture removal.