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

Exclusion of liability

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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