Classification of thyroid disorders

Below are the most common thyroid disorders classified into:

  1. Dysfunction of the thyroid
  2. Structural thyroid disorders

Dysfunction of the thyroid


Thyroid hyperfunction ( hyperthyroidism) causes the thyroid gland to produce too many thyroid hormones. One of the most common causes is autonomy, which means that certain sections of the thyroid gland are simply overactive. The more common cause of hyperfunction is the autoimmune disease Graves' disease. Typical symptoms of hyperfunction include tremor, sweating, high blood pressure, weight loss and irritability. Therapy will be either thyroid surgery or medication that uses the thyroid metabolism.

Graves' disease

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that produces antibodies that activate the thyroid gland. This leads to an overactive thyroid. In addition to the classic symptoms of hyperfunction, Graves' disease causes eye protrusion and swelling of the tibia. The diagnosis is made by detecting the specific antibodies in the blood. Therapy uses medicines that inhibit the production of thyroid hormones. If he does not come to an improvement, there are also surgical treatment options.


In thyroid hypofunction ( hypothyroidism) the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The most common cause is destruction of thyroid tissue due to inflammation of the thyroid gland. Typical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain and dry skin. The therapy consists of an intake of thyroid hormones in the form of L-thyroxine tablets.


In thyroid inflammation, different forms can be distinguished. An acute inflammation can be triggered by bacteria or viruses. This form can be treated by anti-inflammatory drugs. The second form is the Thyreoditis de Quervain, which usually occurs after a viral infection of the respiratory tract and is also inflammatory. This form usually heals spontaneously and therefore requires only symptomatic therapy. The most common form of thyroiditis is Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disease. Symptomatically, all forms manifest themselves in hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid inflammation that eventually leads to hypofunction of the thyroid gland. The typical symptoms may be similar to those of hyperthyroidism (sweating, nervousness, weight loss) at the onset of the disease, but symptoms of hypofunction (fatigue, weight gain, dry skin) develop as the disease progresses. As is the case with hypothyroidism, L-thyroxine is also used as a tablet for training.

Structural thyroid disorders


An enlargement of the thyroid is also called goiter or goiter. One of the main causes of this is an iodine deficiency, especially in iodine deficient areas like the Alps. This enlargement of the thyroid remains often unrecognized. For example, dysphagia, tightness or lumpiness in the throat or hoarseness may occur at a later stage. For therapy iodine is used in the form of tablets and usually also a combination with L-thyroxine.

Hot knot

A hot node in the thyroid, is a node that produces thyroid hormones on its own. This can lead to hyperthyroidism, which can also cause symptoms. In a hot knot, there is no suspicion of cancer. Most hot nodes are surgically removed. If this is not possible, they can be treated with radioiodine radiation therapy.

Cold knot

A cold nodule in the thyroid gland produces little or no thyroid hormone. In contrast to the hot knot, there is a suspicion of malignancy and therefore a further clarification should be made. This is usually done by a fine needle biopsy. Cold nodules are mostly incidental findings and usually remain completely symptom-free. Cold knots are usually removed surgically but may be treated with medication.


The most common form of thyroid cancer is papillary thyroid carcinoma. In the initial stage, thyroid cancer causes rather little symptoms. Later, it may come to urinary disorders or hoarseness due to space requirements. In the examination, the thyroid gland is hardened and palpable. Therapeutically, a complete removal of the thyroid usually takes place with subsequent replacement of the thyroid hormones by L-thyroxine.

Hyperthyroidism - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology (February 2020).

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