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.
What Is A T3 Test
T3 TestsT3 tests measure triiodothyronine levels in the blood. A Total T3 test measures the bound and free fractions of triiodothyronine. Hyperthyroid patients typically have an elevated Total T3 level. T3 tests can be used to support a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and can determine the severity hyperthyroidism.
In some thyroid diseases, the proportions of T3 and T4 in the blood change and can provide diagnostic information. A pattern of increased T3 vs T4 is characteristic of Graves disease. On the other hand, medications like steroids and amiodarone, and severe illness can decrease the amount of thyroid hormone the body converts from T4 to T3 resulting in a lower proportion of T3.
T3 levels fall late in the course of hypothyroidism and therefore are not routinely used to evaluate patients with underactive or surgically absent thyroid glands.
Measurement of Free T3 is possible, but is often not reliable and therefore may not be helpful.
What Kind Of Follow
You will see your childs endocrinologist and head and neck surgeon one week after surgery. Expect to have labs done to assess calcium levels. Thyroid function labs will be drawn four weeks after surgery. Depending on the pathology, additional imaging may be obtained to see if radioactive iodine is needed. Some types of thyroid cancer will require regular blood work screening and scheduled ultrasounds.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2018.
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Signs Your Thyroid Isnt Working Right
by The Surgical Clinic |
The thyroid gland is an important part of the endocrine system. This butterfly-shaped organ regulates important hormones that influence many functions in your body. These hormones also influence how well your body performs physically and mentally. So, if youre feeling unwell with no other explanation, your body might be giving you signs that your thyroid is off.
Keep in mind, your body is a complicated and intricate system that operates on many levels of performance. However, over time many factors can build up and disrupt the balance of your body. Specifically, your systems can become overactive or underactive in order to compensate or respond to these factors.
Thyroid function problems, in particular, occur when the thyroid either becomes under or overused. These conditions are called hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, respectively. Both of these conditions can cause several problems. In order to explore twenty signs of thyroid problems, our Nashville, TN surgeons have divided them into ten signs for each of these separate conditions.
The Role Of Calcium In The Human Body And How The Parathyroid Glands Control All Calcium Levels In Our Bodies
First a word about CALCIUM and what it does in our bodies. We use many elements in our bodies to perform all the different functions of life. Calcium is essential to life, and is used primarily for three things:
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Treating An Underactive Thyroid
Treatment for an underactive thyroid involves taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to raise your thyroxine levels.
You’ll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.
Once you’re taking the correct dose, you’ll usually have a blood test once a year to monitor your hormone levels.
You’ll usually need treatment for the rest of your life. However, with proper treatment, you should be able to lead a normal, healthy life.
What Are The Complications Of Thyroid Cancer
Most thyroid cancers respond well to treatment and arent life-threatening.
After thyroid surgery or treatments, your body still needs thyroid hormones to function. Youll need thyroid replacement hormone therapy for life. Synthetic thyroid hormones, such as levothyroxine , take over for the thyroid hormones that your body no longer naturally produces.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroiditis
The symptoms of thyroiditis depend on the type of thyroiditis and phase of thyroiditis.
- Hyperthyroid phase: Usually short lasting If cells are damaged quickly and there is a leak of excess thyroid hormone, you might show symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as:
- Being worried
- Increased sweating and heat intolerance
- Anxiety and nervousness
What Are The Risks Of Removing The Thyroid Gland
Behind your childs thyroid gland runs the recurrent laryngeal nerves that help to move the vocal folds and the parathyroid glands which help regulate their bodys calcium levels.
Some of the major risk factors following the removal of the thyroid gland are:
- A hoarse/breathy voice.
- Low calcium levels.
After surgery your child will need to take a medication to supplement the thyroid function and in some cases a medication to keep calcium levels elevated.
Other risk factors include:
- A scar on the neck.
- Fluid collection under the skin.
- The need for future procedures such as removal of the lymph nodes from the neck.
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When Abnormal Thyroid Function Tests Are Not Due To Thyroid Disease
While blood tests to measure thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone are widely available, it is important to remember that no all tests are useful in all circumstances and many factors including medications, supplements, and non-thyroid medical conditions can affect thyroid test results. An endocrinologist can help you make sense of thyroid test results when there is a discrepancy between your results and how you feel. A good first step is often to repeat the test and ensure there are no medications that might interfere with the test results. Below are some common reasons for mismatch between thyroid tests and thyroid disease.
Non-thyroidal illness Significant illness, such as an infection, cancer, heart failure, or kidney disease, or recent recovery from an illness can cause changes transient changes in the TSH. Fasting or starvation can also cause a low TSH. An endocrinologist can help to interpret changes in thyroid function tests in these circumstances to distinguish non-thyroid illness from true thyroid dysfunction.
Test interference Biotin, a common supplement for hair and nail growth, interferes with many thyroid function tests and can lead to inaccurate results. Endocrinologists recommend stopping biotin supplements for 3 days before having a blood test for thyroid function.
Patterns Of Thyroid Tests Associated With Thyroid Disease
Primary Hypothyroidism A high TSH and low thyroid hormone level can indicate primary hypothyroidism. Primary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include feeling cold, constipation, weight gain, slowed thinking, and decreased energy. Causes of primary hypothyroidism include:
- Autoimmune thyroid disease, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Thyroid gland dysfunction due to a medication
- Removal of all or part of the thyroid gland
- Radiation injury to the thyroid
- Excess treatment with anti-thyroid medications
Early or mild hypothyroidism may present as a persistently elevated TSH and a normal FT4 hormone level. This pattern is called subclinical hypothyroidism and your doctor may recommend treatment. Over time, untreated subclinical hypothyroidism can contribute to heart disease.
It is important to remember that normal TSH levels in older individuals are higher than the normal ranges for younger individuals.
Primary Hyperthyroidism A low TSH and a high thyroid hormone level can indicate primary hyperthyroidism. Primary hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes or releases too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include tremors, palpitations, restlessness, feeling too warm, frequent bowel movements, disrupted sleep, and unintentional weight loss. Causes of primary hyperthyroidism include:
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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.
What Happens When The Pituitary Gland Doesnt Work Properly
Your pituitary gland plays such an important role that a lot can go wrong if it overproduces hormones or under-produces hormones . Overproduction or underproduction can affect metabolism, growth, blood pressure, sex functions and more.
Pituitary disorders occur when your pituitary gland fails to function as it normally should, likely because of a tumor, which is an abnormal growth of cells. Expert endocrinologists determined that about one in five people will get a tumor in their pituitary gland . Thankfully, the tumors are usually noncancerous . Cancers of the pituitary gland rarely happen. Sometimes a pituitary gland will even have a tumor for years thats both benign and doesnt cause any symptoms.
There are two types of tumors: functioning and nonfunctioning. A functioning tumor produces hormones itself and a nonfunctioning tumor does not. Nonfunctioning tumors are more common.
You should see an endocrinologist, a specialist in the pituitary gland, if you have a tumor. You may also need to see an ophthalmologist and neurosurgeon .
Late Effects Of Treatment On The Thyroid
Damage to the thyroid gland after childrens cancer is usually the result of radiation to the brain or neck and may not show up for years after treatment. Several different types of thyroid problems may develop including an underactive thyroid , overactive thyroid , and growths on the thyroid that may be benign or malignant .
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not active enough. This is the most common thyroid problem seen in childrens cancer survivors. When the thyroid gland is underactive, thyroid hormone levels are low and the bodys metabolism slows down.
There are three different types of hypothyroidism seen in childrens cancer survivors:
Primary hypothyroidism is caused by direct damage to the thyroid gland. Blood tests in people with primary hypothyroidism show a high TSH because the pituitary gland is responding to the lower-than-normal levels of T3 and T4 produced by the damaged thyroid gland.
Central hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the pituitary gland in the brain. Blood tests in people with central hypothyroidism show low TSH, T3 and T4 levels because the pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH to signal the thyroid gland to keep the proper levels of T3 and T4 in the blood.
What To Read Next
Norman Parathyroid Center Coronavirus Response
Corona Virus Update: Sunday January 2, 2022. Great news! We have moved into our new home, the new Hospital for Endocrine Surgery. This hospital is dedicated to endocrine surgery only. There are no COVID patients in our hospital–it does not have a medical ward–just endocrine surgery. This is the safest hospital for you!
The new Hospital for Endocrine Surgery took 3 years to build, and we moved all our surgery to this beautiful new hospital in January, 2022. Having zero COVID patients is great for us, and great for you. There is no chance that we will have to cancel surgery–we are not affected by the virus. All our doctors and staff have been vaccinated and boosted. Vaccinated patients do not need a COVID test. Unvaccinated patients will be given a rapid 10-minute COVID test when you arrive at the hospital. You can have one family member with you at all times. Our old hospital was a huge teaching hospital with more COVID patients than any other hospital in Florida. We are so blessed to move into our new Hospital for Endocrine Surgery–it could not open at a better time!
NEW PATIENTS: It typically takes up to a week for new patients to get into our system, receive their records and have a consultation. Please fill out the forms on the “Become a Patient Page” and get your records sent to us so we can consult with you now and get you in the queue .
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What Does The Pituitary Gland Do
Glands are organs that secrete hormones the chemical messengers of the body that travel through your bloodstream to different cells, telling them what to do. The major hormones produced by the pituitary gland are:
- ACTH: Adrenocorticotrophic hormone. Stimulates the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that maintains blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- FSH: Follicle-stimulating hormone. Promotes sperm production and stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen.
- LH: Luteinizing hormone. Stimulates ovulation in women and testosterone production in men.
- GH: Growth hormone. Helps maintain healthy muscles and bones and manage fat distribution.
- PRL: Prolactin. Causes breast milk to be produced after childbirth. It also affects hormones that control the ovaries and testes, which can affect menstrual periods, sexual functions and fertility.
- TSH: Thyroid-stimulating hormone. Stimulates the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism, energy and the nervous system.
- Oxytocin: Helps labor to progress, causes breast milk to flow, affects labor, breastfeeding, behavior and social interaction and the bonding between a mother and child.
- ADH: Anti-diuretic hormone, or vasopressin. Regulates water balance and sodium levels.
Hormones are not released from the pituitary gland in a steady stream. They come in bursts, every one to three hours, and alternate between periods of activity and periods of inactivity.
Overview Of The Thyroid Gland
, MD, MS, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
The thyroid is a small gland, measuring about 2 inches across, that lies just under the skin below the Adams apple in the neck. The two halves of the gland are connected in the middle , giving the thyroid gland the shape of a bow tie. Normally, the thyroid gland cannot be seen and can barely be felt. If it becomes enlarged, doctors can feel it easily, and a prominent bulge may appear below or to the sides of the Adams apple.
The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones, which control the speed at which the bodys chemical functions proceed . Thyroid hormones influence the metabolic rate in two ways:
Thyroid hormones affect many vital body functions, such as the heart rate, the rate at which calories are burned, skin maintenance, growth, heat production, fertility, and digestion.
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Hyperthyroidism Diagnosis And Treatment
A blood test measures levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. The pituitary gland releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce its hormones. High thyroxine and low TSH levels indicate that your thyroid gland is overactive.
Your doctor might also give you radioactive iodine by mouth or as an injection, and then measure how much of it your thyroid gland takes up. Your thyroid takes in iodine to produce its hormones. Taking in a lot of radioactive iodine is a sign that your thyroid is overactive. The low level of radioactivity resolves quickly and isnt dangerous for most people.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism destroy the thyroid gland or block it from producing its hormones.
- Antithyroid drugs such as methimazole prevent the thyroid from producing its hormones.
- A large dose of radioactive iodine damages the thyroid gland. You take it as a pill by mouth. As your thyroid gland takes in iodine, it also pulls in the radioactive iodine, which damages the gland.
- Surgery can be performed to remove your thyroid gland.
If you have radioactive iodine treatment or surgery that destroys your thyroid gland, you will develop hypothyroidism and need to take thyroid hormone daily.
Lab Testing For Your Thyroid
Looking at your thyroid gland via imaging doesn’t usually give you any information about the FUNCTION of the thyroid gland.
The function of your thyroid gland is very important because it relates to how well your thyroid is able to produce thyroid hormone.
Any change to the ability of your gland to produce thyroid hormone will result in very specific symptoms that are too big to be ignored and these symptoms will often drive people into the Doctors office for evaluation.
Fortunately, many conditions that result in thyroid gland enlargement usually do not interfere with thyroid hormone production.
Some conditions, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, cause both thyroid gland enlargement AND thyroid hormone issues.
Because of this each and every patient with a known or suspected thyroid gland issue should undergo thyroid function testing with blood tests.
To test your thyroid function you will need the following tests:
- TSH – This will help you understand if your brain is talking to your thyroid gland.
- Free T3 – This is the most important thyroid hormone in your body and is responsible for the majority of thyroid cellular activity/
- Free T4 – This is the most abundant thyroid hormone in your body and is important because it acts as a reservoir for T3 thyroid hormone.
- Thyroid Antibodies – The presence or absence of thyroid antibodies can help you understand if you have an autoimmune disease or if your body is attacking your own thyroid gland.
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