There are many medical conditions and diseases that affect people across the globe, often undetected or untreated. One such condition is thyroid disease. In the United States alone there is an estimated 20 million sufferers of some form of thyroid disease. Research also shows that women are at greater risk of developing thyroid disease than men, at a ratio of eight to one.
What is the Thyroid?
The medical term for the thyroid is the Glandula Thyreoidea. This butterfly shaped organ is situated below the voice box at the front of the neck. The two ‘wings’ of the thyroid wrap around the trachea, or windpipe, and a slim strip of tissue acts as its anchor.
The thyroid is and essential hormonal gland responsible for helping to maintain stable health and wellbeing by aiding in the body’s metabolic control system. The thyroid gland helps to regulate and maintain many bodily functions. It does this by releasing a flow of thyroid hormones, Triiodothyronine, Tetraiodothyronine, and Calcitonin, into the bloodstream and is able to fluctuate this flow to remain in harmony with the body’s greater or lesser demand for the hormone.
The thyroid gland’s performance is essential for growth in the young, thus it produces and releases higher levels of hormones, during the essential growing years. A woman, during pregnancy, requires greater levels of the thyroid hormone, thus, the thyroid gland produces and releases higher levels to accommodate the demand. As innocuous as it may seem, being cold is enough to spur the thyroid gland into producing more of its vital hormone.
In short, thyroid problems tend to fall into two categories, they being, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism the body does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. Whereas, with hyperthyroidism the thyroid gland produces an excess of the hormone. Both of these conditions can vary in their degree of severity and can be very serious and sufferers should always seek professional treatment. Although rare, prolonged periods with no treatment can result in a sufferer going into a myxedema coma, which is potentially fatal.
Who is at Risk from Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease can affect anyone. Negative thyroid conditions do not discriminate by gender, age or culture, although there are high risk groups which include: those with a family history of thyroid disorders; other medical conditions, such as pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, Turner syndrome, lupus, primary adrenal insufficiency; Imbibing medication that is high in amiodarone (iodine); those over 60 years of age, particularly women; those that have had past treatment for thyroid conditions.
Thyroid Disease Treatment
Bangkok’s hospitals are well versed in the treatment of thyroid disease, for both expats dwelling within the kingdom and medical tourists drawn to the city by its exemplary reputation for first class medical care and affordability, as well as the indigenous population. Highly trained health care professionals follow tried and testedpractices in diagnostics and treatment whilst also pushing the boundaries of the knowledge and understanding of this disease.
Whether suffering from hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the end goal is to return the thyroid gland to a normal, balanced level of function. The treatment will vary depending on the nature and severity of the disease. In some cases, treatment may result in lifelong medication, for others, successful treatment can result in a total cure.
Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, commonly be referred to as an over active thyroid gland, is less common than hypothyroidism, at a ratio of about four to one amongst sufferers of thyroid disease, and can be treated via several different methods. Specialists in the field of thyroid disease are well placed to advise on the best treatment, or combination of treatments, on each individual case.
Typical treatments include the anti-thyroid drugs methimazole and propylthioracil. These drugs are specifically designed to reduce or stop the thyroid gland from producing the thyroid hormone.A specific treatment aimed at subduing the production of high levels of thyroid hormone is radioactive iodine. This is usually a ‘once only’ form of medication which is swallowed by the patient and is now the most common medication for hyperthyroidism in the United States.
In some cases, surgery may be the preferred option and is seen as a more permanent solution. Undergoing the removal, or partial removal, of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) results in the body being unable to produce the thyroid hormone. As a result of the thyroid gland removal the patient will then be required to take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of their life.
Alternatively, as opposed to treating the cause of hypothyroidism, it is possible to treat the symptoms of the disease. This is done by prescribing beta blockers as an ongoing treatment of drugs taken daily by the patient.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism, commonly referred to as an underactive thyroid gland and also known as Hashimoto’s disease, is the more common form of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism is treated with synthetic thyroid replacement medicationlevothyroxine. This manufactured medication supplements and boosts the level of thyroid hormone being naturally produced by the body.
Across the world, levothyroxine has become the first choice medication to treat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. This is due to its unequalled success in allaying the symptoms attributed to the disease. However, in a small percentage of cases a patient may have side effects which preclude its use. In these rare cases a natural hormone replacement drug maybe the preferred option.
The first choice alternative to levothyroxine is Armour Thyroid. Levothyroxine is entirely synthetic; Armour Thyroid is entirely natural. It is drawn from animal sources and is made up of both triiodothyronine and tetraiodothyronine hormones, these care commonly referred to as T3 and T4 hormones respectively. Another non-synthetic drug is Cytomel. Unlike Armour Thyroid, Cytomel is only made up of the T3 hormone and, in some cases of use, has been shown to lead to hyperthyroidism, or an over active thyroid gland.
Be it hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, Bangkok’s hospitals have always had highly trained professionals with unsurpassed expertise in the field of thyroid disease. Although thyroid disease is common, more and more people from across the world are now able to lead normal lives thanks to the doctors and support teams operating from Bangkok’s hospitals.
In the year 2000 the prevalence of thyroid disease in the global population was 2.3%, it is now estimated to be 3.8%. With this unfortunate increase in the numbers of sufferance more and more hospitals are expanding their facilities in dedicated clinics, and the number of professional practitioners, to combat this common disease for both foreign and indigenous sufferers.
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