Thyroid disorders

The thyroid gland can become enlarged (goitre/struma) or can produce too much or too little thyroid hormone.

Overview

The thyroid gland can become enlarged (goitre/struma) or can produce too much or too little thyroid hormone. The main symptom is fatigue, accompanied by other specific complaints. Self-treatment without a doctor’s supervision is not recommended.

Symptoms

Enlargement of the thyroid gland (goitre/struma)

  • Palpable enlargement of the thyroid gland, with or without nodules
  • Rarely, shortness of breath, hoarseness, sore throat or earache

Insufficient hormone production (hypothyroidism)

  • Fatigue and low blood pressure
  • Skin and hair are dry and rough
  • Weight gain in spite of reduced appetite
  • Constipation
  • Women mostly experience menstrual disorders, while men suffer from erectile dysfunction

Excess hormone production (hyperthyroidism)

  • Restlessness and shaking hands
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • Weight loss in spite of a ravenous appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Unnaturally protruding eyes

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Autoimmune disorders (Basedow’s disease, Hashimoto's disease)
  • Congenital dysfunctions
  • Side effect of operation or medication
  • Iodine deficiency/excess

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Testing of blood hormone levels
  • Ultrasound (sonography) of thyroid gland
  • Other specialised tests (e.g. scintigraphy)
  • Examination of tissue samples under a microscope
Possible therapies
  • Medication
  • Operation (removal of thyroid gland)
  • Radiation therapy

What can I do myself?

  • Self-treatment with iodine tablets is not recommended as they won't make a goitre go away.

In Switzerland, table salt has been iodised since 1925 to prevent iodine deficiency.

When to see a doctor?

  • Any enlargement of the thyroid gland (in particular fast-growing)
  • Persistent symptoms of insufficient or excess hormone production
    • Changes in weight (weight loss, weight gain)
    • Digestive problems (diarrhoea, constipation)
    • Fatigue, restlessness, trembling

Synonyms

thyroid disorders, thyroid disorder, goitre, struma, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's disease

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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