Health: Thyroid Problems
By: Ambreen Anwar
The thyroid is a small gland located below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, just at the spot where a bow tie would rest. It’s brownish red, with left and right halves (called lobes) that look like a butterfly’s wings. It is light like a butterfly too and usually weighs less than an ounce.
The production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyrotropin which is secreted by the pituitary gland. The more thyroid hormone there is in a person’s bloodstream, the faster chemical reactions occur in the body.
Why are thyroid hormones so important? There are several reasons — for example, they help kids and teenager bones to grow and develop, and they also play a role in the development of the brain and nervous system in kids.
Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid gland does not supply the proper amount of hormones needed by the body. If thyroid is over active. It releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, resulting in hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes the body to use up energy more quickly than it should and chemical activity (like metabolism) in the cells speeds up.
An underactive thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism. When the amount of hormone released into the bloodstream is below normal, the body uses up energy more slowly and chemical activity (metabolism) in the cells slows down.
Although they are two different conditions in both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism the thyroid can become larger than normal. An enlarged thyroid gland is a lump that can be felt under the skin at the front of the neck. When it is large enough to see easily, it is called a goiter.
People who don’t get enough iodine in their diets also can get an enlarged thyroid, but this is rare in the United States because foods there usually supply enough iodine.
As small as it is, though, the thyroid has an enormously important job to do, especially for teens. It manufactures the hormones that help control metabolism and growth. To do its job, the thyroid needs a chemical element called iodine that the body absorbs from the foods you eat and the water you drink. The entire body contains about 50 milligrams of iodine. About 1/5 to 1/3 of that supply (10 to 15 milligrams) is stored in your thyroid. The thyroid combines the iodine with tyrosine (an essential amino acid) to make important hormones.
Thyroid hormones are released from the gland and travel through the bloodstream to your body’s cells. They help control the growth and the structure of bones, sexual development (puberty), and many other body functions. By helping your cells convert oxygen and calories into the energy they need to work properly, these hormones are important in determining if your body will mature as it should.
Thyroid hormones also directly affect how most of your organs function. So if your thyroid is not operating properly, you can have problems in lots of other parts of your body.
Hyperthyroidism can cause nervousness, irritability, increased perspiration, intolerance to heat, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a fast heart beat or irregular menstrual periods in girls and muscles weakness.
People with this problem might lose weight even though they are eating more than usual. The eyes may feel irritated or look like they are staring. Sometimes the tissues around the eyes become inflamed and swollen, and the eyes appear to bulge out but this is less common in teens than in adults with hyperthyroidism
A person with mild hypothyroidism may feel just fine — in fact, the condition might cause no symptoms at all. However, symptoms can become more obvious if hypothyroidism progresses.
People with under active thyroids might feel depressed and sluggish. They might gain weight even though they’re not eating more or getting less exercise than usual. Teens with hypothyroidism also might have slow growth in height, slow sexual development, irregular menstrual periods in girls, muscles weakness, dry skin, hair loss, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating.
The body also has two triangular adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney.
The adrenal glands have two parts, each of which produces a set of hormones and has a different function:
The outer part, the adrenal cortex, produces hormones called corticosteroids that influence or regulate salt and water balance in the body, the body’s response to stress, metabolism, the immune system, and sexual development and function.
The inner part, the adrenal medulla produces epinephrine (a hormone that is made naturally in the body and may be given as a drug) .Also called adrenaline, epinephrine increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body experiences stress.
Thyroid Disease, Growth, and Puberty;
Once puberty starts the body goes through some very noticeable changes. Because thyroid hormones play an important role in this process, thyroid disease may slow down or interfere with a teen’s physical development. But it is important to know that not everyone grows or develops at the same age or at the same rate. If your friend seems to grow 4 inches overnight and you haven’t had a growth spurt yet, it does not mean there is something wrong with you or your thyroid.
A thyroid problem also may cause a girl to have changes in her periods. Girls with thyroid problems may have a decrease or increase in menstrual flow or there may be a shorter or longer time between periods than usual. However, because girls who are just starting to menstruate often have irregular periods for the first year or so, changes in periods are usually nothing to worry about and do not mean a girl has thyroid disease.
People who are concerned that they might have a thyroid problem should visit the doctor. Chances are, the problem is something simpler. And if someone does have thyroid disease, diagnosing and treating it properly — including bringing the blood levels of thyroid hormones back to normal — will usually prevent or correct any problems.
When a child born, just for satisfaction, it is good for a child and parents to detect thyroid as he/she comes into your arm for giving healthy life style and protecting from diseases.
In early age you should take your child to endocrinologist if he/she is not spurting height after reaching 16 to 18 bones are usually closed there is no more progress to increase.
Diet should be healthy no excessive use of meat, but chicken and goat meat are considered better and fish is better than too all. Avoiding junk food, oil and cigarette because these all are trigger blood pressure and cholesterol. Vitamin D found in food such as liver, some fish, egg yolk that is important for healthy bones and teeth. During pregnancy vitamin D must be taken through medicines, sun shine has vitamin D that is necessary for strong and healthy bones, if it is ignored when you are going to have a baby so it effects on baby’s health they might have big heads and soft bones which may be curved when a time come to stand.
About the author: Ambreem Anwar is a student of Medical Sociology at University of Karachi