Thyroid gland disorders – Conditions & Symptoms
The thyroid gland is a gland of the endocrine system located in the neck that produces the thyroid hormone, mainly responsible for metabolism in the body, and affecting many body systems. Disorders can occur when the thyroid grows too large or develops cancer, or from the over and underproduction of the thyroid hormone. The thyroid sometimes enlarges and forms what is known as a goiter. Goiters are intrinsically harmless and don’t require removal unless they restrict breathing and swallowing due to their location in the throat. They often show outwardly as a lump in the neck, so many people have them removed for cosmetic reasons. The more dangerous but rare formation of thyroid cancer can also occur. There are many types of thyroid cancer, but most are able to be treated without long-term health effects. However, the most common disorders of the thyroid gland occur from the overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of thyroid hormones, and results in many different conditions. Because the thyroid hormone regulates metabolism, the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are racing heart, sweatiness, shaking, and rapid weight loss. It can also have mental and emotional effects such as anxiety and panic attacks. Here are a few specific disorders resulting from hyperthyroidism:
- Grave’s disease is one of the most common disorders of hyperthyroidism, and occurs when too much thyroid hormone is produced. It is based on an immune system malfunction involving the pituitary gland, which secretes the hormone that tells the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone.
- Toxic adenoma occurs when small growths in the thyroid gland begin secreting thyroid hormones. Goiters can contain these.
- Subacute thyroiditis is the swelling of the thyroid gland, causing it to secrete excess hormones. This condition disappears when the swelling goes down.
The opposite of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism, the underproduction of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. The most common symptom, again related to energy metabolism, is sluggishness and lack of energy. It can also result in depression. Here are specific conditions that result from hypothyroidism:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the condition caused by a malfunction of the immune system. The immune system attacks healthy thyroid tissue, killing it and thereby stopping its production of thyroid hormone.
- Exposure to certain substances can harm the thyroid gland and its production of thyroid hormone. Too much iodine in the body has been linked to hypothyroidism, as well as the substance lithium.
- In children, hypothyroidism can cause serious problems such as stunted growth or dwarfism as well as mental retardation. This is why the thyroid hormone is thoroughly tested in young children.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters and cancers is reached through the use of various tests and imaging devices. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are most often detected through hormone levels in the blood, including the level of thyroid hormone, and the thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH. Goiters are usually visible and verified as non-cancerous through ultrasounds. If blood tests indicate they are producing excess thyroid hormone, doctors will treat you with hyperthyroidism. Cancers are treated with radioactive iodine, a treatment unique to the thyroid gland because of its absorption reaction to normal iodine.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Thyroid Gland Disorder Diagnosis
If you have a thyroid gland disorder that affects your ability to carry out normal life tasks, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. The Social Security Administration’s published list of qualifying impairments, known as the Blue Book, contains the medical and other requirements necessary for your thyroid gland disorder to be considered a disability and qualify you for benefits.
However, the section of the Blue Book that deals with the Endocrine System is unique among the listed body system impairments. Because there are so many different disabling conditions associated with endocrine system malfunctions, the SSA evaluates them based on your affected body area.
If hypothyroidism has caused you growth problems, you will be evaluated under the conditions listed under growth impairments. If your hypothyroidism has resulted in severe depression, your symptoms will be compared to those under mental disorders.
Hyperthyroidism commonly causes an overactive heart, so your symptoms will be evaluated under the cardiovascular system requirements. If you have suffered severe weight loss, you will have to meet the applicable conditions under the digestive system section. Lastly, if your hyperthyroidism has led to an anxiety disorder or panic attacks, your symptoms must qualify under mental disorders recognized by the SSA.
Along with medical documentation of your thyroid gland disorder, you must provide proof that it significantly impacts your ability to perform daily tasks and maintain employment.
Your Thyroid Gland Disorder Disability Case
Filing for disability benefits from the SSA because of a thyroid gland disorder will be most successful if you are aware of the Blue Book requirements, so long as up provide as much medical and background information as possible regarding the specific body areas that are affected. To be more certain that your claim will receive a favorable review, contact a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate.