Thyroid disease comes from an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. This butterfly-shaped organ in your neck makes hormones that manage your metabolism.
Thyroid disease can affect your energy and weight and lead to serious complications.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from thyroid disease.
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Doctors define thyroid disease as a health issue of the thyroid gland. This gland makes hormones that control your metabolism — how your body uses energy.
Thyroid disease causes your thyroid gland to make too much or too little of the hormones.
These hormones affect your:
Thyroid disease is common.
About 20 million people in the U.S. have thyroid disease. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have the disease.
Thyroid disease tends to be a lifelong issue. But doctors can manage it with medicine, surgery, and other treatments.
There are two main types of thyroid disease:
The two main types of thyroid disease have different causes.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease. This disease causes the immune system to attack the thyroid by mistake. Other causes are radiation treatment for certain cancers and treatment for hyperthyroidism.The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease, an immune system disorder. Taking too much thyroid hormone to treat hypothyroidism may also be a cause.
You're more likely to get thyroid disease if you:
Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to:
Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to:
There's no known way to prevent thyroid disease.Back to top
Thyroid symptoms vary based on what kind of thyroid disease you have.
Hypothyroidism symptoms start slowly. You may feel tired and lethargic.
Later, symptoms may include:
Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
Your doctor will ask you about your health history and do a physical exam.
They'll feel your neck while you swallow. The thyroid gland moves up and down when you swallow.
Your doctor may order tests, such as a:
The endocrine doctors at UPMC take a team approach to treating thyroid disease. They can tailor treatment to meet your unique needs.
They use high-tech imaging and cutting-edge surgical techniques.
UPMC also offers access to clinical trials and same-day screenings for thyroid issues.
Doctors treat hypothyroidism with medicine that has the thyroid hormone. They slowly increase the dose until your blood reaches a normal hormone level.
Symptoms often start to improve within a few weeks.
You'll likely have to take this medicine for the rest of your life.
Your doctor will keep watching your hormone levels and adjust your dose if needed. Taking too much thyroid hormone can lead to symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism depends on the symptoms and causes.
Doctors may treat it with:
With proper treatment, most people with thyroid disease can live a normal life.
After the first treatment, your doctor will want to see you on a routine basis. They can help you manage your thyroid issue.Back to top