How To Treat Thyroid Problems
Now that you know more about the problems that indicate thyroid problems, what should you do? Of course, the first thing you should do is ask your doctor about your symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, you may have another condition that needs to be treated.
However, if you are experiencing several of these symptoms at a time, you most likely have a thyroid condition.
Before you start receiving treatments, first youll need to work with your doctor to get tested. Typically this will include blood tests to check the levels of T4 and T3 in your blood. When the tests come back, your doctor will help you know that to do next.
Usually, treatments include hormone replacement therapy. Iodine supplements may be prescribed in order to treat goiters.
However, if your symptoms are severe, it can be a sign of thyroid cancer. In which case youll need to visit a thyroid surgeon to remove the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy and radiation oncology are also viable options.
How Is Thyroiditis Treated
How thyroiditis is treated depends on the type, symptoms, and phase of thyroiditis.
- Thyrotoxic phase: Usually temporary, it will eventually either recover and go to the euthyroid phase, or go to the hypothyroid phase. This hypothyroid phase could be temporary or permanent. It may not be necessary to treat symptoms in subacute, painless, or post-partum thyroiditis. During the thyrotoxic phase, treatment is symptomatic. Antithyroid medications are rarely needed.
- Palpitations/anxiety/tremors/heat intolerance/increased sweating: These symptoms are treated with beta blockers.
- Thyroidal pain: The pain can usually be managed with anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. If the pain is severe enough, steroid therapy may be required .
- In other forms, treating the infection will be necessary to eliminate acute thyroiditis. Drug-induced thyroiditis generally lasts as long as the drugs are taken.
- Hypothyroid phase: If necessary, thyroid hormone replacement therapy is used to treat hypothyroidism. This type of therapy usually continues for 6 to 12 months. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis usually causes permanent hypothyroidism and requires continued treatment.
What Is A Swollen Thyroid
Anatomically speaking, the thyroid gland, located at the front portion of the neck, is part of the endocrine body system. A swollen thyroid or medically termed as goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Furthermore, people who suffer from a swollen thyroid are occasionally battling against hypothyroidism. However, there are actually a lot of reasons which cause the thyroid gland to swell. These reasons will be explained later in the discussion on the causes for a swollen thyroid.
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Are There Any Side
Surgery carries the normal risks of any operation , and will result in an underactive thyroid. It can rarely cause specific complications with damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve resulting in a hoarse voice, or damage to the glands around the thyroid , which control calcium. This may result in a low calcium level in the blood, which would require medication.
Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Treatments And Support
Endless energy, unexplained weight lossthe initial symptoms of an overactive thyroid are often seen as good symptoms. Thats why hyperthyroidism is one of the most underdiagnosed endocrine conditions. But if left unchecked, it can lead to serious complications. Were here to empower you with clear answers to all your hyperthyroid questions.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is the abnormal function of your thyroid gland, an organ located in the front of your neck that releases hormones to regulate your bodys use of energy. In other words, if you have high thyroid levels, it means that your thyroid gland is overactive and makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs, which causes hyperthyroidism.
The hormones produced by your thyroid gland are thyroxine and triiodothyronine , and they play an important role in the way your entire body functions. For this reason, when there is an imbalance, such as high T4, it can have far-reaching effects on almost every aspect of your health.
Infographic by Lauren Hunter
- body temperature
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Changes In Menstrual Cycle Or Sexual Performance
Hormonal changes are closely linked to sexual function. If you find that your period is becoming irregular, heavier, or more painful than before, or if you are experiencing stronger emotional symptoms tied to PMS, your thyroid might be the cause.
You might also experience difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment. If you are having difficulty with libido or achieving orgasm or if you cannot maintain an erection, you could also be struggling with a thyroid-related symptom.
While these are uncomfortable issues to talk about, they should absolutely be addressed with us to rule out not only thyroid trouble but also anything else that might quietly be causing these issues.
What About Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is uncommon and is among the least deadly. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck, and only about 5% of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous. When thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is most often treated with surgery followed by radioactive iodine therapy or, in some cases, external radiation therapy.
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What Is The Evaluation Of A Thyroid Goiter
The following are a list of tests that are required in the evaluation of a patient with a Thyroid Goiter.
- Complete Medical History and Physical Examination
- T3 and T4
- Thyroglobulin Antibody
- Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin
- Ultrasound with possible Fine Needle Aspiration guided
Medical history and physical examination is required for all patients with a thyroid goiter
If there is a suspicion that you may have a thyroid goiter, your health care professional will want to know your complete medical history. You will be asked questions about your possible risk factors, symptoms, and any other health problems or concerns. If someone in your family has had a diagnosis of thyroid goiter, thyroid cancer or other endocrine cancers, these are important factors.
Graves Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
A simple physical exam can reveal an enlarged thyroid, enlarged bulging eyes, and signs of increased metabolism, including rapid pulse and high blood pressure. Your doctor will also order blood tests to check for high levels of T4 and low levels of TSH, both of which are signs of Graves disease. A radioactive iodine uptake test might also be administered to measure how quickly your thyroid takes up iodine. A high uptake of iodine is consistent with Graves disease.
Theres no treatment to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid gland and causing it to overproduce hormones. However, the symptoms of Graves disease can be controlled in several ways, often with a combination of treatments:
- beta-blockers to control rapid heart rate, anxiety, and sweating
- antithyroid medications to prevent your thyroid from producing excessive amounts of hormone
- radioactive iodine to destroy all or part of your thyroid
- surgery to remove your thyroid gland, a permanent option if you cant tolerate antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine
Successful hyperthyroidism treatment usually results in hypothyroidism. Youll have to take hormone-replacement medication from that point forward. Graves disease can lead to heart problems and brittle bones if its left untreated.
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Is It Menopause Or Thyroid Disorder
Thyroid disorders can cause symptoms that are mistaken for those of a woman approaching menopause. Both menstrual cycle changes and mood changes can result from the menopausal transition or from thyroid conditions. Blood tests can determine which of these conditions is responsible for your symptoms. It’s also possible to have a combination of the two causes.
Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.
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Muscle Aches And Trouble Swallowing
Muscle aches throughout the body are sometimes associated with abnormal thyroid levels. If your muscle aches have recently onset without any other obvious causes, a thyroid disorder is one likely cause. Rarely, muscle breakdown can also occur. If you find that you are unable to build toned muscle, reach out to your physician.
On a similar vein, because the thyroid is located in the neck, the neck muscles are usually the first to experience these symptoms. This includes the muscles associated with swallowing. If you are struggling to swallow, this could be another signs of thyroid problems.
Other Causes Of Hypothyroidism
In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone , which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.
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How Are Thyroid Nodules Treated
Thyroid nodules don’t always need treatment. Many nodules cause no symptoms and may even get smaller over time.
Thyroid nodules may need treatment if they grow or cause symptoms, or if there is concern that it could be a cancer. Surgery is the preferred treatment for thyroid nodules in children. This might involve removing part of or all the thyroid gland.
If needed, surgery is done in a hospital under general anesthesia, so the child is asleep and feels nothing. If only part of the thyroid is removed and the rest of the gland is healthy, a child may not need to take a thyroid hormone after surgery. If the rest of the gland isn’t healthy or if the whole thyroid is removed, the child will need to take a thyroid hormone.
Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon. When it does happen, it is very treatable. Most thyroid cancers can be cured or controlled with treatment.
Thyroid Goiter: The Definitive Diagnosis Of A Thyroid Goiter Is Made By High Resolution Ultrasound Examination
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Enlarged Thyroid Vs Painful Thyroid
It’s important to differentiate between an enlarged thyroid gland and a painful thyroid gland.
This one single symptom is unique to very few conditions and can easily help you figure out a diagnosis.
Your thyroid gland is an organ and is susceptible to inflammation and infection, just like other parts of your body.
This condition occurs very rarely, however, because for the most part your thyroid is protected from the rest of your body.
This is one of the very few conditions which cause pain in the thyroid gland when touching it.
Subacute thyroiditis can also result in an enlargement of the thyroid gland but it’s almost always associated with pain.
This pain is important because it can easily help differentiate other, more serious, conditions which cause an enlargement of your thyroid gland.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the cause of my hyperthyroidism?
- Do I have Graves disease?
- What types of food and medicine contain high levels of iodine?
- What is the best treatment?
- Will I need to take medicine? If so, for how long and what are the side effects?
- Will I need surgery? If so, what are the benefits and risks?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to relieve my symptoms?
- Am I at risk for related health problems?
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What Are My Hyperthyroidism Treatment Options
You may receive medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery to treat your hyperthyroidism. The aim of treatment is to bring thyroid hormone levels back to normal to prevent long-term health problems and to relieve uncomfortable symptoms. No single treatment works for everyone.
Treatment depends on the cause of your hyperthyroidism and how severe it is. When recommending a treatment, your doctor will consider your age, possible allergies to or side effects of the medicines, other conditions such as pregnancy or heart disease, and whether you have access to an experienced thyroid surgeon.
Is Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy A Problem
Thyroid hormone levels that are just a little high are usually not a problem in pregnancy. However, more severe hyperthyroidism that isnt treated can affect both the mother and the baby. If you have hyperthyroidism, be sure your disease is under control before becoming pregnant. Learn more about causes, diagnosis, and treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.
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Treatments For An Overactive Thyroid
An overactive thyroid is usually treatable.
The main treatments are:
- medication that stops your thyroid producing too much of the thyroid hormones
- radioiodine treatment where radiation is used to damage your thyroid, reducing its ability to produce thyroid hormones
- surgery to remove some or all of your thyroid, so that it no longer produces thyroid hormones
Each of these treatments has benefits and drawbacks. You’ll normally see an endocrinologist to discuss which is best for you.
Where Can I Find Support
Hyperthyroidism impacts you physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Its critical that you have a strong network of people you trust and can turn to for support.
It starts with your family. Since thyroid disease runs in families, being honest and open with your relatives is the best policy, as you might be alerting them to a problem they didnt even know to look out for.
To help you build your own support network outside of those closest to you, check out the Graves Disease & Thyroid Foundations community resources to find a support group near you. If you dont want to leave home, their online forum is another great resource for connecting and widening your net.
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Goitres And Production Of Thyroid Hormones
- In many people with a goitre, the goitre does not affect the amount of thyroid hormones that you make. You are then euthyroid, which means you make the correct amount of these hormones.
- In some people, the goitre is associated with an abnormality of thyroid function. You may make too much thyroid hormone or too little . This can be shown with a simple blood test of your thyroid function. See the separate leaflet called Thyroid Function Tests.
Note: you can also develop an overactive or underactive thyroid without having a goitre.
What Are The Symptoms Of Goiter
The main symptoms of goiter include:
- A swelling in the front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple
- A feeling of tightness in the throat area
- Dizziness when the arms are raised above the head
Other, less common symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
Some people who have a goiter may also have hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:
- An increased resting pulse rate
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sweating without exercise or increased room temperature
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Hypothyroidism Diagnosis And Treatment
Your doctor will perform blood tests to measure your TSH and thyroid hormone levels. A high TSH level and low thyroxine level could mean that your thyroid is underactive. These levels could also indicate that your pituitary gland is releasing more TSH to try to stimulate the thyroid gland to make its hormone.
The main treatment for hypothyroidism is to take thyroid hormone pills. Its important to get the dose right, because taking too much thyroid hormone can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid Goiter: When Is A Ct Scan Ordered
When physical examination and or ultrasound cannot completely determine how far the goiter actually goes, then a CT scan should be ordered. The CT scan will show areas that the thyroid goiter extends and prepare the expert thyroid surgeon their safe and effective approach to remove all of the goiter gland and spare all other structures. Even though a thyroid goiter may extend extensively below the sternum and go well into the chest, these goiters can almost routinely be removed through a relatively straight forward low collar incision in the lower neck. If your surgeon is telling you that they need to “split your chest” or “open your sternum”, make sure that you have identified a highly experience thyroid surgeon. Again, such approaches are almost never actually required.
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Weak Nails And Thinning Hair
Your hair and nails are constantly growing. One important function of the thyroid gland is sending hormone signals to trigger hair and nail growth. With hyperthyroidism, the extra hormones tell your body to increase the growth of your hair follicles and nails in a shorter period of time. While it would seem that your nails growing fast would be a positive side effect of thyroid dysfunction, that isnt the case. This forced growth is too fast. As a result, your body has to stretch its natural resources, which can lead to thin and brittle hair and nails.