What Is the Thyroid Gland and What is a Thyroid Nodule?

The thyroid gland controls a lot of different areas. It releases hormones that help us to breathe, our heart rate, the central nervous system and regulates our body temperature. Without the proper regulation of hormones that control metabolism, our bodies can become distressed. So any time that the thyroid gland is deprived of nutrients or becomes out of balance, it is crucial that steps are taken to get it functioning properly.

Thyroid nodules refer to one or more growths that are found within the thyroid. If you visit your physician on a routine medical exam and this term is brought to your attention, do not panic. About 90% of all nodules are non-threatening and can treated. They can be present in your thyroid without your knowledge. An endocrinologist feel a small lump in your neck or discover one through an ultrasound of the thyroid. Nodules can either filled with fluid or can be solid throughout.

Do I Have a Throat Nodule?
There is a way to identify a throat nodule if it is prominent. Stand in front of a mirror and raise your chin so that your neck is exposed. Swallow and look around the area of the windpipe and Adams apple for any type of bump. Using your hands, feel for anything that seems abnormal. If something appears, contact your physician.

How Did I Get A Thyroid Nodule?
You may have heard that thyroid problems originate from lack of iodine. This is true in part. While Western diets have iodine added in many of their foods, there are still unexplained reasons why many people in the United States develop nodules.

Thyroid Adenoma – This is a benign tumor that is common. Usually singular, it can protrude from the neck and be easily spotted. Some are harmless and retract while others produce thyroid hormone known as hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid. An endocrinologist can provide treatment for this type of growth.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – This is an autoimmune disorder where antibodies attack the thyroid gland causing chronic inflammation. This condition is usually hereditary and not yet understood what causes it. Occurring mainly in middle-aged women, it can evolve in men and children of any age.

Thyroid Cancer – Although rare, thyroid cancer can emerge and be spotted by difficulty in swallowing, a nodule close to the Adam’s apple that gets larger, or swollen glands in the neck. Only the proper testing performed by an endocrinologist can evaluate and provide the right plan of action.

Those most prone to thyroid nodules are men over 60 or men under 30 years old.

How Can Thyroid Nodules Be Treated?
Before treatment can be rendered, the type of thyroid nodule must be determined. Your endocrinologist may take ultrasounds of your thyroid or check your thyroid hormone levels. If he/she makes the determination that the nodule is benign, periodic checks will be scheduled. If a change is noted from a follow-up visit, medication may be prescribed in order to keep your hormone levels in balance. Radioactive iodine has been used to keep nodules from producing too much hormone activity. However, this procedure will never be used on a female that is pregnant as the radioiodine could do permanent damage to the unborn. This form of treatment can cause the nodule to shrink. Other anti-thyroid medicines and surgery may be suggested depending on the diagnosis. Anytime that cancer is suspected, surgery is the best approach. Removing all thyroid nodules that are cancerous is necessary to stop the growth. If malignancy is confirmed, the entire thyroid along with any abnormal lymph nodes, will be removed.

Will Thyroid Nodules Come Back?
If you have had nodules in the past or if they are hereditary, the side of caution is always recommended. Depending on your individual history, you may be scheduled for follow-ups that include biopsies, thyroid scans or ultrasounds. Fortunately, 90% to 95% of all thyroid nodules are benign. Once you understand what the role of the thyroid gland and thyroid nodules are, the scenario will not be as stressful.

If you are concerned that you may have one or more thyroid nodules and live in the Tampa, Florida area, there are specialists ready to review your concerns. Bay Area Endocrinology Associates focus on the treatment of all thyroid conditions including cancer, nodules, hyper and hypothyroidism. All thyroid ultrasounds, biopsies, and lab work is done onsite for quick diagnosis and treatment plans. Complex metabolic conditions, like diabetes, obesity with a comprehensive weight loss program, and hormone deficient states such as low testosterone are also included in this practice. There are multiple locations in the area for your convenience. Reach out to Bay Area Endocrinology Associates today for professional help with any thyroid nodules or other thyroid related conditions.

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