- The thyroid is a gland with two lobes, one lying on each side of the larynx. The thyroid produces the three hormones known as thyroxine, T3 and T4. These are the hormones responsible for metabolism, growth and storing calcium, according to the textbook "Medical Assisting: Administrative and Clinical Competencies."
Diseases of the Thyroid
- Like any part of the body, the thyroid can malfunction. There are several known diseases associated with a thyroid that is not working properly. There is a condition called goiter, which is simply an enlarged thyroid. Hypothyroidism is another condition. It occurs when the thyroid is not working hard enough. Since the activity of the thyroid is decreased, you might notice being tired more than usual, a low blood pressure or temperature and an increase in body weight. Hyperthyroidism is the opposite. In this case, the thyroid is working too hard. A patient diagnosed with hyperthyroidism has an increase in metabolism, and may experience an unintended weight loss.
- Wilson disease is also known as hepatolenticular degeneration or copper storage disease. According to the National Library of Medicine website, "Wilson disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes your body to retain copper". The body needs some copper for the nervous system, skin and bones. Too much copper, however, is detrimental to the tissue of the liver, and the central nervous system, if the extra is not excreted. One of the functions of the liver is to filter copper, and get rid of the excess.
Symptoms of Wilson Disease
- The condition is present at birth, but most people do not experience any symptoms until they are between the ages of 6 and 20. A few people report their first symptoms even later than that. The most common symptom is Kayser-Fleischer rings. These are rusty-brown colored rings around the iris and cornea of the eye. Other symptoms include swelling of the liver or spleen, jaundice--a condition that turns the skin or eyes yellow-- swelling of the legs or abdomen, skin that starts to bruise easily or fatigue.
- Some thyroid conditions require medications to help the thyroid function properly. If medicine does not help in hyperthyroid patients, radiation might be prescribed to decrease the function of the gland. Sometimes a thyroidectomy is necessary. A thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of the thyroid. Treatments also vary with Wilson disease. If treated, it is usually not fatal. Some medications also help patients with Wilson's. Zinc, another micronutrient, can block the absorption of copper. Usually, a low copper diet is also prescribed. In rare cases, a liver transplant could be necessary.