An Overview to Thyroid Dysfunction

Thyroid dysfunction mainly consists of two types of disorders which include mild hypothyroidism and mild hyperthyroidism. The mild forms of thyroid dysfunction usually show subtle or no clinical signs in patients. Abnormal serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are considered to be one of the major causes of a thyroid dysfunction.

Mild hypothyroidism affects about 3% to 17% of American adults while the mild hyperthyroidism affects about 1% to 12%. Screening for thyroid dysfunction is considered essential to find the other symptoms which could cause damage to the individual. Measurement of TSH is the single best test performed in an individual for assessing thyroid dysfunction. However, the measurement of thyroxine (T4) alone does not enable the detection of mild thyroid dysfunction. Both TSH measurement and thyroxine (T4) measurement is performed to confirm the presence of a thyroid dysfunction in an individual.

Mild hypothyroidism is characterized by a mildly elevated serum TSH concentration of about 5 to 10 mU/L and a normal serum free T4 concentration. Mild hyperthyroidism is characterized by a low serum TSH concentration and a normal T4 level. TSH concentration is determined for an individual who is suspected to have thyroid dysfunction with or without specific clinical symptoms.When the TSH measurement of the patient varies markedly from the baseline level, a test for free T4 is performed along with a subsequent TSH test to confirm the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction.

Risk of progression to overt disease, high serum lipid levels, and the presence of somatic and psychological symptoms are the deciding factors for treating individuals with the mild hypothyroidism. Three predictors that influence the progression of mild thyroid dysfunction to overt disease include age greater than 65, TSH above 10 mU/L, and the presence of antithyroid antibodies. The presence of a goiter is one of the other factors which make treatment for mild thyroid dysfunction compulsory.




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