The thymus gland is located in the upper portion of the chest, between the lungs. The gland is more active during childhood and hence, it is bigger in size in kids. As a person ages, the size of the gland reduces. This small gland plays a significant role in the production of lymphocytes, which are cells of the immune system that kill and destroy invading pathogens and foreign particles in the body. Hence, any problem association with the thymus gland can adversely affect the immune system.
Some of the thymus gland disorders are highlighted below:
At times, the gland can be absent at birth or it can be under developed. This occurs due to DiGeorge syndrome wherein the affected person does not have the twenty-second chromosome. It is important to note that when this chromosome is missing, all parts associated with it will be under developed or missing. Absence or having an under developed thymus gland leads to a poor immune system and makes the person more prone to infections and illnesses.
Another disorder related to the thymus gland is Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. This is a genetic disorder, which results in the weakness of the immune system. Basically, when a person has this genetic disorder, the gland atrophies due to lack of presence of immune cells. When a person is diagnosed with this disorder, he or she is has to take antibiotics regularly to boost the working of the immune system.
Thymoma is the presence of tumor in the thymus gland. This tumor is benign, but it wreaks havoc with the functioning of the gland. This disorder is more prevalent in people who are more than 40 years old. Some of the people may not have any symptoms of thymoma, while others may complain of pain in the chest, fever, fatigue, breathing difficulties, wheezing and night sweats.
The thymus can also be affected by cancer. When a tumor develops in the gland, it can spread to the neighboring tissues and can become life threatening. Hence, if malignant tumors are detected in the thymus, they are surgically removed.
It has been observed that any disorder related to the thymus gland does not show any symptoms in the initial stages. However, as the disorder progresses, the symptoms tend to appear. Some of the common symptoms related to gland disorders include loss of weight, pain in the chest, fever, problems while breathing, wheezing, cough and night sweats. In addition, the person will also have lowered immunity making him or her more susceptible to infections. The treatment measure adopted varies based on the disorder.
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