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How to recognize thyroid problems?

January marks the international thyroid awareness month. While people usually do not think about their thyroids too much, it’s a good thing to know how to recognize when this organ is not functioning correctly, and how it can affect you. A sick thyroid gland can show various symptoms that are rarely primarily associated with hormonal disorders, and today’s article by Pacific Prime Dubai will shed some light on the symptoms, and ways to test for thyroid problems.

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How does your thyroid gland work?

The thyroid is a small gland that is located at the front of the neck, just under the larynx. The thyroid gland produces two hormones, ft3, and ft4 that perform vital functions in the body.

The ft3 hormone (triiodothyronine) is responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system, the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It affects the water balance and muscle work. The ft4 hormone (thyroxine) regulates glucose absorption or fat breakdown. It affects the functioning of the gonads and fertility.

Common thyroid problems

There are a few thyroid problems, which even if not lethal, can make a sick person’s life quite hard. Common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, and hypothyroidism, which is the underproduction of the thyroid hormones.

Causes of thyroid problems

Sometimes, the cause of thyroid problems is the disorder and malfunction of the immune system. This group of diseases includes Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease. Other times, the cause of thyroid problems can be inflammation caused by viruses or bacterias, but also iodine deficiency, genetic disorders, and some chronic diseases such as diabetes type 1, among others.  

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Symptoms of thyroid problems

In most cases, the thyroid disease is diagnosed based on the ft3 and ft4 level. The reason for their investigation may be the enlargement of the thyroid gland, also called goiter, which can often be sensed by the skin.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a state in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism symptoms are similar to other health problems, making it hard to diagnose. Some of the symptoms and signs include:

  • Unintentional weight loss not caused by a change in eating habits
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Pounding of your heart
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and excessive sweating
  • Trembling of hands and fingers
  • Irregular menstrual patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue
  • Problems with the digestive system (most often diarrhea)
  • The condition of the skin, hair, and nails worsens.

Hypothyroidism

Thyroid enlargement can also lead to hypothyroidism, a situation where the gland produces insufficient amounts of the ft3 and ft4 hormones. The most characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and shortness of breath, especially after exercise
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sleep disorders – excessive drowsiness or insomnia
  • Feeling cold, despite the high temperature outside
  • Constipation
  • Muscle stiffness and joint pain
  • Weight gain despite the lack of appetite
  • Weakened memory and ability to concentrate
  • Swelling of the neck and appearance of the so-called gill
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Skin problems, hair loss, weakness of the nails
  • Problems with the circulatory system
  • A significant decrease in mood, decrease in libido

What is the best test to check for thyroid problems?

If you experience any of those symptoms and suspect that it might be caused by any problem with your thyroid glands, you can undergo three types of tests for thyroid problems.

Blood test

The first test that can confirm the problem with thyroid is a blood test with the designation ft3, ft4, and TSH hormones. Their standards are:

  • ft3 from 2.3 to 6.6 ng/ ml
  • ft4 from 0.9 to 2.4 ng/ml (exceeding these values may mean hypothyroidism, the result below may suggest hyperthyroidism)
  • TSH from 0.27 to 4.0 mU / l (a decrease in TSH is indicative of hyperthyroidism, increased level of TSH – hypothyroidism)

Thyroid ultrasonography

In addition to the blood test, thyroid ultrasonography is performed. It allows detecting small bumps that can be invisible in scintigraphy. What is scintigraphy? During the test, radioactive isotopes are administered, thanks to which the exact location of the tumor can be established. The marker is administered orally or intravenously. Then the patient lays on a particular table, and the bottom of his neck is placed under the camera with the sensor. Nodes that do not collect radioisotope are “cold” and may indicate the danger of cancerous changes. “Hot” nodes that accumulate the marker may suggest hyperthyroidism.

Fine needle aspiration biopsy

If the thyroid change is worrying, a doctor may need to collect the sample for further examination. In such situations, the so-called fine needle aspiration biopsy is performed. The needle is inserted into the thyroid gland, then the tissue is removed using a syringe. Contrary to what it may sound, the examination is neither painful nor dangerous. Results allow the doctor to determine the nature of possible cancer changes and in the case of cancer, to start your treatment as soon as possible.

Dubai health insurance that protects you

With the cost of health insurance and healthcare in Dubai rising quickly, it’s crucial to secure UAE health insurance that covers you beyond the minimum annual limit of 150 000 AED stated by the DHA. What is good policy then? How much does thyroid tests cost and where can you receive it?

Answers to these and all of your Dubai health insurance questions can be closer than you think! Contact our insurance experts today for free and impartial advice on medical plans in the emirate, as well as a free quote!

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elwira

Content Creator at Pacific Prime Dubai
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!
elwira