The thyroid is an important part of the body’s regular function, so doing what you can to keep it healthy is essential. While there are some conditions that can’t be prevented, there are ways to help support your overall thyroid health.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland within the front, lower portion of the neck, specifically between the collarbones and voice box. Although the gland is small – no larger than your thumb – it is responsible for many essential body functions, such as how the body uses energy, helps the body stay warm, and keeps the brain, heart, muscles, and more working as they should.
Common Symptoms of a Thyroid Issue
When a thyroid issue is present, there could be a number of symptoms that occur. The metabolism could be affected, leading to noticeable weight loss or gain. Low thyroid levels can lead to forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and even depression. Fertility in women can change as they may experience irregular ovulation or periods. Because there are various systems that can be affected, and some symptoms are common in other ailments, any symptoms you are experiencing should be evaluated by a physician to determine the exact cause and appropriate treatment.
Diagnosing Thyroid Problems
A proper diagnosis will depend on the initial symptoms. For cases of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, a simple blood test can determine hormone levels to determine thyroid functionality. An imaging test may be needed, such as an ultrasound, thyroid scan, or radioactive iodine uptake test, if a thyroid disease is suspected. In the event a lump or nodule is found, the doctor may choose to perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy which will identify if it is cancerous or noncancerous.
Treatment of Thyroid Conditions
Specific treatment for a thyroid issue will all depend on what the problem is. For instance, thyroid cancer may require chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, whereas hypothyroidism may simply require hormone supplementation with pills. Your general practitioner should be able to help you identify any potential underlying issues based on the symptoms you are experiencing, but for treatment, an endocrinologist will be able to provide you with specialized care.
At Decatur County Memorial Hospital, our Endocrinology department is here to help you with concerns you have regarding thyroid health, as well as other organs involved in the endocrine system. For questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.