Thyroid Disease

The thyroid, located in the front lower region of the neck, is a gland that produces thyroid hormones. These hormones are necessary for many bodily functions, as they impact our muscles, bones, skin, heart, brain, liver, kidneys, digestive tract, and more. Primarily, surgery is performed only after the thyroid is deemed suspicious by a biopsy. Unusual findings, or a biopsy that shows signs of cancer, may indicate a number of problems in your endocrine system. Operations, medication, or other therapies are advised for patients who have a variety of thyroid conditions.

The most common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism (when the gland is overactive) or hypothyroidism (when the gland is underactive)

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone and releases it into your bloodstream, causing your metabolism to speed up.

Symptoms

  • Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Twitchiness, fatigue, irritability, nervous sweat
  • Muscle weakness and shaky hands

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, causing your metabolism to slow down.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue, brain fog,
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Prolonged muscle weakness and soreness
  • Low tolerance of cold temperatures
  • Dry coarse skin and hair
  • Frequent and heavy menstrual periods

Thyroid Nodules

Cancerous and benign (non-cancerous) growths are called nodules.
Benign nodules, while not life-threatening, may cause symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, intolerance to heat, nervousness, irritability, trouble sleeping, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. This is because the nodules are producing extra hormones. Additionally, swelling of the thyroid glands can cause difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

Beyond understanding what a thyroid nodule is, it is also recommended that you learn how to check for lumps in you throat and understand the different types of nodules that exist.

Thyroid Treatment FAQ

How are thyroid problems diagnosed?
After checking your neck for signs of any growth around the thyroid gland, your doctor may draw a blood sample. Then they will test your blood for signs of either high levels of thyroxine, or low to nonexistent levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH.

Alert your doctor if you are taking medication or supplements with biotin as these might throw off the results of these tests

How is hyperthyroidism treated?

The good news is that there a variety of treatments for hyperthyroidism based on the age, health, and condition of the patient, as well as the cause of your condition. These treatments include:

Radioactive Iodine – Ingested through the mouth, a patient can take radioactive iodine which is then absorbed by the thyroid gland causing it to shrink. Symptoms include nausea, tenderness of the neck, swollen salivary glands, and loss of taste, but these symptoms subside in a few months. However, there is a chance that Radioactive Iodine might cause hypothyroidism which might lead to a patient needing to take thyroxine supplements in the future.

Anti Thyroid Medication – Medications such as Methimazole ( Tapozole) or propylithiouracil. Medication usually leads to symptom relief in a few weeks but may take up to a year or longer before treatment is complete. Both drugs have been linked to severe liver damage, while Methazole has been deemed far safer than propylithiouracil.

Surgery ( Thyroidectomy) – If you are pregnant or would prefer to avoid or can’t take antithyroid medication or radioactive iodine, you may be a candidate for surgical treatment. Surgical treatments involving hyperthyroidism usually involve removing the thyroid and supplementing your thyroid hormone levels using medication such as levothyroxine. If your parathyroid glands also need to be removed, you will also need medication to regulate your calcium levels as well.

How is hypothyroidism treated?

Hypothyroidism is often treated through medication. Medication like levothyroxine improves the amount of thyroid hormone your body produces, realigning them back to normal levels.

While Hypothyroidism is a very manageable condition, patients will need to take medication for the rest of their lives. However, with regular visits to your doctor to adjust and manage your medication, most patients can live a normal and healthy life.

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