The thyroid gland is among the most vital organs in the body since it manufactures the hormones that stabilize the function of many other organs and systems in the body. The thyroid gland is controlled the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. The hypothalamus manufactures a hormone that stimulates the production of the thyroid stimulating hormone in the pituitary gland.
Many disorders or diseases can affect the thyroid gland. With the exception of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, an enlarged thyroid or goiter is one of the most common thyroid gland diseases.
The thyroid gland disorders
- Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is a condition when this gland produces enormous amounts of hormones. The people who suffer from it may experience symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heart rate, diarrhea and nervousness.
- Hypothyroidism or inactive thyroid is a condition when the thyroid gland does not generate enough of the hormones T4 and T3. The main symptoms of this disorder are weight gain, constipation, dry skin and fatigue.
Causes of enlarged thyroid
- In the majority of cases, enlarged thyroid is caused by Grave’s disease, also known as diffuse toxic goiter, which occurs due to hyperthyroidism. When one suffers from Grave’s disease, the immune system encourages the thyroid gland to make two different types of hormones.
- Another cause for the occurrence of enlarge thyroid is Hashimoto’s disease. In people who have this disease, their immune system produces the antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, thus causing low production of the thyroid hormones. Therefore, the main consequence of this disease is hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is usually inherited and is also well-known under the names Hashimoto's thyroiditis and chronic lymphocitic thyroiditis.
- Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition that is also responsible for the occurrence of enlarged thyroid gland. It usually occurs in women a few months after the child delivery. The inflammation of the thyroid gland usually leads to postpartum thyroiditis.
- The thyroid nodules, which are the growths on the thyroid gland, are noncancerous in the majority of cases. However, sometimes they can lead to the thyroid cancer, which is very harmful. An enlarged thyroid gland occurs due to this cancer, which could spread to the other organs in the body.
- Iron deficiency is also one of the major causes for the appearance of enlarged thyroid gland since this element is very important for the production of the thyroid gland hormones.