Thyroid Nodules Causes & Symptoms
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid gland, located beneath the Adam’s apple on the front of the neck, regulates the hormones that control vital body functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. It is shaped like a butterfly, with two small lobes on either side, resembling wings, and a center portion called the isthmus.
What are thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules are lumps that are solid or contain fluid, occurring in an otherwise normal thyroid gland. You may develop a single thyroid nodule or multiple thyroid nodules. They are not uncommon, occurring in nearly 50% of the population at some point during their life. The best way to detect a thyroid nodule is to undergo routine medical exams by your general practitioner, and endocrinologist or an ear, nose and throat doctor if you have a concern.
What are the common causes of thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules can occur for various reasons. Possible causes of thyroid nodules may include autoimmune disorders, iodine deficiency, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), pregnancy or thyroid malignancy.
What are usual thyroid nodules symptoms?
Many people who have thyroid nodules do not experience any symptoms. However, sometimes those with thyroid nodules experience one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty swallowing, sudden and unexplained weight change, nervousness, irregular heartbeat, trouble sleeping, tremors, visible neck swelling, difficulty breathing and swallowing and hoarseness or voice changes.
What are the risk factors for thyroid nodules?
Family history can increase a person’s chances of developing thyroid nodules. Those who have family members with thyroid conditions (e.g. hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, nodules) have a higher likelihood of developing thyroid nodules. Thyroid nodules are also more commonly experienced by women than men.
How are thyroid nodules diagnosed?
Because thyroid nodules don’t always have symptoms, you may not notice the condition until your doctor notices it during a routine physical exam. Nodules can be detected by symptoms expressed by the patient or by your doctor feeling for lumps on your neck. If a thyroid nodule is diagnosed, your general practitioner will likely recommend that you see an endocrinologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist to properly diagnose the condition. Your ENT in Cayman Ltd. doctor may conduct one of the following tests, depending on the individual: thyroid ultrasound (provides images of the nodule), blood tests (checks the levels of thyroid hormones), referral for a thyroid scan (measures the activity of the nodule) and fine needle aspiration (evaluates the nodule to rule out a malignancy).
How are thyroid nodules treated?
Treatment options for thyroid nodules will depend on the type of nodule diagnosed. If your thyroid nodule is not suspicious for malignancy or is not causing serious side effects, your doctor may only recommend close monitoring of the nodule through regular office visits, blood work and ultrasound imaging.
On the other hand, if your nodule is suspicious for being malignant or causing other serious conditions, your doctor may need to pursue other treatment options, including medication or surgery.
If you are suffering from thyroid nodules, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor.
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