Disorders of the Thyroid


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A person with a large swollen neck.
Goiter, a hypertrophy of the thyroid, is a symptom of Graves disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

OpenStax Microbiology

Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. Symptoms of Graves disease result from the production of thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) also called TSH-receptor antibody. TSI targets and binds to the receptor for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is naturally produced by the pituitary gland. TSI may cause conflicting symptoms because it may stimulate the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone or block thyroid hormone production entirely, making diagnosis more difficult. Signs and symptoms of Graves disease include heat intolerance, rapid and irregular heartbeat, weight loss, goiter (a swollen thyroid gland, protruding under the skin of the throat) and exophthalmia (bulging eyes) often referred to as Graves ophthalmopathy.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto thyroiditis, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis often develop a spectrum of different diseases because they are more likely to develop additional autoimmune diseases such as Addison disease (discussed later in this section), type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease. Hashimoto thyroiditis is a TH1 cell-mediated disease that occurs when the thyroid gland is attacked by cytotoxic lymphocytes, macrophages, and autoantibodies. This autoimmune response leads to numerous symptoms that include goiter, cold intolerance, muscle weakness, painful and stiff joints, depression, and memory loss.

Photo of a person with large bulging eyes.
Exophthalmia, or Graves ophthalmopathy, is a sign of Graves disease. (credit: modification of work by Jonathan Trobe, University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center)


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology