Hormone & metabolism centre in Mainz: information about the thyroid gland
The thyroid gland, a small organ with a big effect
The vital organ called the thyroid gland controls the central functions in our bodies. It is almost certainly the most well-known hormone gland. This is also because there are thyroid gland disorders in which the organ becomes visible as a swelling beneath the skin (goitre formation). Shaped like an ‘H’, the thyroid gland is located in front of the trachea in the area of the larynx.
Thyroid gland disorders are frequent and their effects are diverse. The thyroid gland may be to blame if you are feeling depressed, have no drive or are even aggressive, for instance. The organ is located at the front on the throat between the larynx and the breastbone.
All vital functions in our bodies are controlled by the thyroid gland:
- Cardiovascular system
- Metabolism and growth
- Bone remodelling
- Nervous and muscular activity
- Mind, spirit
- Fertility and sexuality
Our well-being, our minds, even the growth of our hair, skin and fingernails as well as bone growth are all influenced by the thyroid gland. Thyroid gland disorders affect the entire body. Endocrinologist Prof. Christian Wüster is an absolute specialist in complaints resulting from a thyroid gland dysfunction.
A goitre or struma is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency and genetic predisposition usually play a major role in this. Iodine is required to produce the thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency causes the thyroid gland to become enlarged. The enlarged thyroid gland can press against the trachea and oesophagus.
Hyperthyroidism exists if too many hormones are produced and released in the thyroid gland. This involves the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. The thyroid hormones affect both our mental and physical performance. The consequences can include hyperactivity, an accelerated pulse, sleep disorders, weight loss, hair loss and constant agitation, etc. Graves’ disease is often diagnosed in this context.
If the thyroid gland produces too few hormones, reference is made to hypothyroidism or, in medical terms, hypothyreosis. Typical consequences of hypothyroidism include depressive moods, decreased sexual desire, tiredness and lack of drive, difficulty concentrating and also weight gain. Brittle hair, hair loss, dry skin or cracked fingernails can also be attributed to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, also called hypothyreosis, usually develops gradually. The most frequent cause is autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune disease)
Hashimoto’s disease is the most frequently occurring and diagnosed autoimmune disease. It accounts for around 80 per cent of all thyroid diseases. Statistically, females are ten times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease than males. Hashimoto’s disease primarily occurs in patients between the ages of 30 and 60. Genetic predisposition has also been identified. There are also other factors that foster its development:
- Chronic or severe infections, negative stress, depression and life crises such as divorce, serious illness of a family member, etc.
- Special hormonal situations (e.g. in puberty, during pregnancy, the menopause or on presentation of a high oestrogen level with a low progesterone level at the same time, e.g. persistency of follicle)
- Extensive hormone fluctuations
- Food intolerances, digestion problems, a poor and unbalanced diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption.
Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland. The course of the disease and the effects can vary widely depending on the patient.
Hypothyroidism typically leads to complaints such as:
- General listlessness and lack of drive
- Difficulties concentrating
- Physical weakness
- Constant freezing
- Digestion problems
- Increased body weight
- Raised blood lipid values
- Hair loss
- Brittle hair
- An irregular menstrual cycle
- Problems becoming pregnant
The Mainz-based hormone & metabolism centre led by endocrinologist Prof. Christian Wüster is outstandingly well-equipped to help patients who need to clarify whether they have Hashimoto’s disease.