I. What is it?
The thyroid hormones are essential body hormones produced by the thyroid glands. These tyrosine-based hormones are known as thyroxine, also known as T4 and triiodothyronine, also known as T3. These thyroid hormones are responsible in regulating the body’s metabolism, which is how much food will be broken down into useful energy for consumption.
One important ingredient in the production of thyroid hormones is the element iodine. The production of thyroid hormones starts from the stimulation of the pituitary gland, TSH and in return will be regulated by the hypothalamus’ TSH releasing hormone.
Thyroid Hormone Test
Thyroid hormone tests are basically blood tests that will somehow check one’s thyroid, whether it is dysfunctional or not. In these tests, thyroid hormone deficiency can also be determined. This deficiency occurs when the thyroid hormone levels in the body is irregular, that is too low or too high.
According to webMD.com, thyroid hormone test include three blood tests- total thyroxine for T4, free thyroxine and triiodothyronine for T3. Total thyroxine measures how much free and bound thyroxine is present. Free thyroxine, on the other hand, determines how much are free thyroxine from the bounded ones. Finally, triiodothyronine identifies how much are both bound and free triiodothyronine are in the blood.
Interesting Questions about Thyroid:
Most patients with hypothyroidism have some degree of associated depression, ranging from mild to severe. 10% – 15% of the patients with a diagnosis of depression may have thyroid hormone deficiency. Patients with depression should be tested to determine if they have a thyroid disorder.
- Several research studies have been done and continue to be done on the association between depression and thyroid disease. Although all forms of depression, including bipolar disorders like manic depression, can be found in either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, depression is more often associated with hypothyroidism. Many patients with hypothyroidism have some degree of associated depression, ranging from mild to severe.
- If a large population of depressed patients was screened, a significant percentage, perhaps 10% – 15%, would be found to have thyroid hormone deficiency. For this reason, patients with a diagnosis of depression should be tested to determine if they have too little thyroid hormone. If they do, thyroid medication should be prescribed.
- Thyroid hormone is sometimes prescribed for depressed patients with normal thyroid function because it magnifies the beneficial effects of certain antidepressants.
- Lithium, a commonly prescribed drug for certain types of depression, has profound effects on the size and function of the thyroid gland. Patients taking lithium need periodic examinations of their thyroid gland and thyroid function.
The leading cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Graves’ Disease.
Autoimmune diseases in general
Autoimmune diseases tend to run in families. In other words, there is a strong genetic predisposition to develop one or more autoimmune diseases. Females are affected five times more than men by autoimmune disease. Patients with other autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop autoimmune thyroid diseases.
Researchers are trying to unlock the mysteries of autoimmune diseases, but there are still many unanswered questions. Basically an autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that attack healthy tissues. In Graves’ disease, the immune system produces anti-thyroid antibodies that cause the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antithyroid antibodies damage the thyroid gland and prevent it from producing enough thyroid hormone.
Autoimmune diseases associated with a higher than normal rate of thyroid autoimmune diseases
- vitiligo (patchy loss of skin coloration)
- alopecia areata (sudden, circular hair loss)
- premature gray hair
- pernicious anemia (inability to absorb B12)
- rheumatoid arthritis
- myasthenia gravis (episodic muscle weakness that can affect vision, speech, swallowing, and breathing )
- Lupus erythematosus ( connective tissue disorder)
- insulin-dependent diabetes
- Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency)
- premature ovarian failure
Tests for antibodies present in autoimmune thyroid disease
- TPOab (thyroperoxidase antibodies)
- TGab (thyroglobulin antibodies)
One of these two types of antibodies is found in nearly all patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and in approximately 50% of patients with Graves’ disease.
- TRab (thyrotropin receptor antibodies; also called thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins or thyroid stimulating antibodies.)
The eye changes associated with Graves’ disease can be called either Graves’ ophthalmopathy, Graves’ orbitopathy, or Graves’ eye disease. Approximately 50% of the patients with Graves’ disease develop some eye disease, but the eye changes may be so subtle that patients are unaware of them. For most patients with Graves’ disease, eye involvement is minimal. Severe orbitopathy occurs in less than 5% of patients with Graves’ disease.
Graves’ eye disease is not caused by thyroid dysfunction. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the eyes and the thyroid gland independently of each other. Thus, the hyperthyroidism may improve with therapy, while the eye disease stays the same or gets worse. Even though the thyroid disease and the eye disease run independent courses, it is important to treat the hyperthyroidism associated with Graves’ disease.
An ophthalmologist is usually involved in the treatment of Graves’ eye disease. Most thyroidologists and endocrinologists should be able to recommend an ophthalmologist experienced in the treatment of Graves’ eye disease. In addition, The Thyroid Society maintains a list of such ophthalmologists throughout the country.
Symptoms of Graves’ eye disease may include a feeling of irritation or sand in the eyes, double vision (diplopia), and excessive tearing. Inflammation and swelling behind the eye may cause actual protrusion of the eyeball from the orbit. When this protrusion occurs, it is called exophthalmos or proptosis.
When the eye changes are severe, there may be marked swelling of the eye, inability to move an eye, corneal ulceration, and in extreme cases, loss of vision. Fortunately, these severe changes occur infrequently, but when they do occur, consultation with an ophthalmologist is essential. Graves’ eye disease usually affects both eyes, although each eye may be affected to a different degree. In some cases, only one eye is affected.
The course of Graves’ eye disease is unpredictable. The initial, or active, phase of Graves’ eye disease may last for eighteen to twenty-four months. During this time period, the eye signs and symptoms may change considerably. For this reason, physicians are reluctant to use certain treatments, such as surgery, during this phase, fearing that ongoing inflammation will cause the eyes to change again after surgery. Thus, most physicians advise patients to defer treatments such as surgery until the eye disease goes into an inactive phase. Of course, if a patient’s symptoms are severe or if loss of vision is threatened, then all available treatments will be used at any time, even during the active phase.
Most patients will receive only symptomatic treatment during the active phase of Graves’ eye disease (see list below). Most importantly, it should be stressed that smoking aggravates Graves’ eye disease.
Physicians may advise the following to relieve symptoms associated with Graves’ eye disease:
- discontinue smoking
- avoid smoke-filled rooms
- use lubricating eye drops
- cover eyes while sleeping
- wear wrap-around dark glasses outdoors during the day
- elevate the head of the bed to reduce overnight eye swelling
- wear prism glasses, or cover one eye with a patch, to relieve double vision
- turn ceiling fans off before going to bed
- avoid exposure to strong sunlight
- avoid or limit wearing contact lenses
- take diuretics temporarily to relieve swelling around the eyes
When symptoms of inflammation are severe, either steroids in large doses or radiation therapy may be advised. Surgery (orbital decompression) is sometimes recommended when the inflammation is so severe that loss of vision is threatened. The choice of therapy among steroids, radiation, and surgery (used individually or in combination) and the timing of therapy require a great deal of thought on the part of the team caring for the patient with Graves’ eye disease.
Once the inflammation in the eyes has stabilized, or entered the inactive phase, patients may then have surgery to relieve signs and symptoms, such as lid retraction, swelling around the eyes, or double vision. Ophthalmologists specializing in plastic surgery of the eye perform the surgery to relieve lid retraction and swelling around the eyes. Sometimes other ophthalmologists who specialize in diseases of the muscles of the eye perform the operation(s) to relieve double vision.
Medical and Surgical Treatment Options for Graves’ Eye Disease
- radiation therapy
- surgical adjustment of eyelid placement
- plastic surgery for swelling around the eye(s)
- eye muscle surgery for realignment of the eye(s)
- orbital decompression
Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ
Thyroid Hormone Replacement
When one is having hypothyroidism or any condition that results to the thyroids under activity like surgery or radioactive iodine, one is in need of thyroid hormone replacement. The process of thyroid hormone replacement includes proper medication of essential drugs that will help the body with its supply of thyroid hormones.
One of the most prescribed thyroid hormone replacement drugs for medication is the levothyroxine. Levothyroxine is a kind of drug made of synthetic T4 hormone. It can also be referred to as l- thyroxine. Other thyroid hormone replacement drugs include synthetic forms of T3 hormones and some animal- based desiccated thyroid.
These drugs are said to replenish lost thyroid hormones in order for the body to continue with its essential functions.
Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the body’s processes. Some of these processes include breaking down of materials to be used as energy. Consult a doctor for any information about the thyroid hormones.
Thyroid FAQ & Links to Related Articles
|There are four parathyroid glands that are normally having the size of a single rice grain. In some normal cases, they can be as big as the size of a pea.|
|Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal level of thyroid hormones in the body, which is too low.|
|The thyroid is a butterfly (pear)-shaped gland, it consists of 2 symmetrical lobes joined by a central isthmus that normally covers the 2nd & 3rd tracheal rings.|
|Congenital hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disorder that may lead to deafness or mental retardation if left undetected.|
|Hypothyroidism can cause depression. Most people don?t realize that this feeling is depression caused by the thyroid gland not functioning as it should.|
|Papillary thyroid cancer is one of the thyroid cancer types. This type of thyroid cancer arises from the follicles in the thyroid gland.|
|The thyroid gland is located immediately below the larynx on each side of and anterior to the trachea. It is one of the largest of the endocrine glands|
|These thyroid hormones are responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism, which is how much food will be broken down into useful energy for consumption.|
|When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, one may suffer from hyperthyroidism.|
|The thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid stimulating hormone promotes the growth of the thyroid gland.|
|Thyroid hormones are chemical substances produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck.|
|Natural thyroid supplements are helpful as a remedy to thyroid disorders. Its natural ingredients assure one of its safeties in taking it.|
|The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is the primary responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism.|
|Thyroid surgery is used to treat people with thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and hyperthyroidism.|
|Thyroid tests or thyroid function tests are done to check the thyroid function in one?s body. A doctor will be able to determine and diagnose the thyroid disorder.|
|Treatment for thyroid disorders should be done to prevent unwanted results caused by the severity of the condition. Consult a physician for more of these treatments.|
|Thyroidectomy is a surgical process wherein the whole or a part of the thyroid gland is removed. This surgical process is used to treat thyroid disorders.|
|Having an underactive thyroid is a minor problem but it seeks proper attention to avoid further health problems. Consult a physician about any thyroid problem.|
|Low thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland is under active.|
|Following a healthy meal plan, exercise and proper medication goes hand in hand to treat hypothyroidism. Consult a physician for a more individualized plan.|
|Each thyroid cancer treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer and the extent or stage of the thyroid cancer one is suffering from.|
|Parathyroid hormones are considered to be the most important endocrine regulator. It basically regulates the calcium and phosphorus concentration in the body.|
|Studies show that since 1925, the standard treatment for parathyroid disease is to surgically remove the parathyroid gland(s) which are overproducing parathyroid hormones.|
|Parathyroid adenoma is a small tumor of the parathyroid gland and is known to be the most common disorder of the gland.|
|Medullary thyroid cancer is one of the types of thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.|
|Most people don?t feel any symptoms. Others can just lose weight and just feel depressed for no reason at all.|
|Suppose you go in for a routine checkup and your doctor decides to test your thyroid function. You?ve experienced no thyroid disease symptoms|
|Hypothyroidism develops for over a long period of time. It?s normally from several months to even several years.|
|People who are suffering from hypothyroidism are advised to get plenty of exercise and have a balanced and healthy diet. The diet must be rich in protein and iodine.|
|Self medicating one?s thyroid disorder with hypothyroidism diet pills without proper information of the diet pill does not address the problem.|
|Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones more than the body needs.|
|Hypothyroidism is one of the chronic diseases in the world. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid; hypo means under or below normal.|
|Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a type of thyroid cancer that is rare and aggressive. It affects the thyroid gland and most especially its function.|
|Problems arise if the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive. There are three common thyroid disorders. These are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and the thyroid nodules.|
Thyroid Hair Loss
|Hair loss may happen for so many reasons but it is commonly associated to thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.|
|Thyroid Function Tests are the different tests conducted to assess and determine the cause of an individual?s thyroid problems.|