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The endocrine system - Thyroid

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Endocrine System - Thyroid Gland. The endocrine system consists of a number of endocrine glands that produce hormones within different parts of the body. These glands include the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pancreas, testes and ovaries. The chemical substances (hormones) produced by these glands are responsible for bodily processes including growth, metabolism, response to stress, and sexual development. Hormones are secreted into intercellular spaces where it can directly diffuse into the blood and be carried around the body. (Wilson et al, 1996) A cell that has a specific reactor for that hormone will allow the hormone to bind with it which then causes a reaction within the cell. These cells are known as target organs. Hormones play an important part in maintaining homeostasis. Any hormone imbalance can lead to a variety of abnormalities within the body. Hypersecretion takes place when a hormone secretes too much of a hormone and hyposectretion happens when too little of a hormone is produced. (Thibodeau et al, 2002) In order to maintain homeostasis and regulation of hormone levels the body relies on a mechanism called negative feedback. When a low level of hormone is detected by the hypothalamus it produces a releasing hormone which can then stimulate the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland (control centre) ...read more.


It is believed the thyroid stimulating antibodies and symptoms may be caused by an abnormality in the patients' immune system. (Toft, 2006). The clinical symptoms of an overactive thyroid include increased appetite, due to the fact that the excessive amounts of thyroid hormone will burn off calories (energy) very quickly. As metabolism increases the body will also produce excessive heat therefore causing an increase in sweating as the body tries to cool itself. Most people with Graves' disease become irritable and have difficulty concentrating. It can be seen that a person may suffer from palpitations, and in the elderly may further develop into irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation and even heart failure. Tremors of the hands, along with general muscle weakness and itching all over are some more common symptoms. It may be seen that hair becomes thinner and nails become brittle. Graves' disease can occur at any age but is more common in females. (Zilva et al, 1988). Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be acute or chronic depending on the severity. Hyperthyroidism itself tends to be a chronic condition that may come and go in bouts until a successful treatment is found. Thyrotoxicosis can be diagnosed by a blood test which measures the actual levels of T3, T4 and TSH in the blood. ...read more.


The remaining five percent will not have enough gland removed and still suffer hyperthyroidism. (Toft, 2006). Another treatment option is radioactive iodine (RAI), which tends to be reserved as a treatment for people over the age of 45 years. It can be taken as a capsule or drink which is administered in hospital. It works by destroying some of the cells in the thyroid and not allowing remaining cells to divide to form new cells. It has to be noted that it is hard to find a dose of RAI that will give a good cure rate for thyrotoxicosis without leading to hypothyroidism, which currently can affect as many as 20 percent of those treated within the first two years after treatment, and three to five percent more each year after that. Those affected may have to take supplements of thyroid hormones (thyroxine) in order to get enough thyroid hormone. (Toft, 2006) To conclude, most diseases of the thyroid gland can be treated and will not reduce life expectancy if treated properly. Diagnosis is simple, results from blood tests are reliable and treatment is usually successful. The body needs to have a normal balance of hormones in order to function adequately and any disturbance can lead to a variety of illness and disease. ...read more.

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