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Thyroid diseases are caused by abnormal functions of the thyroid gland which produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) to control metabolism and another hormone, calcitonin, to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. Thyroid diseases occur when these hormones are either under-produced or overproduced.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which insufficient thyroid hormones are produced. Possible causes include:
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by blood tests that measure the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4). If TSH is high but thyroxine is low, it indicates that the thyroid is underactive.
Doctors may prescribe a synthetic hormone (e.g., levothyroxine) to replace missing thyroid hormone in the body.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which excess thyroid hormones are produced. Possible causes include:
Overactive nodules (toxic adenoma)
Hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed by blood tests that measure the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4). If TSH is low but thyroxine is high, it indicates that the thyroid is overactive.
There are several treatment options for hyperthyroidism:
Radioactive iodine - The drug may be taken by mouth. Active cells of the thyroid gland will be destroyed after picking up the drug.
Anti-thyroid medications - This type of drugs, such as methimazole or propylthiouracil, can inhibit the production of thyroid hormones.
Surgery - To remove part of the thyroid gland.