The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found just at the base of your neck. To control various important functions in your body, this gland produces specific hormones. When these hormones aren’t present in the right amount, you may experience problems with any or all of the functions these hormones control.
Proper levels of thyroid hormones are essential for normal function. If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, you’ll be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. If your thyroid produces more hormones than your body needs, you’ll be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Problems with the thyroid gland can result from several different factors, and can vary depending on your diagnosis.
If you have hyperthyroidism, causes include: inflammation of the thyroid gland, autoimmune disorders, and nodules on the thyroid.
If you have hypothyroidism, causes include: certain medications, having a history of thyroid surgery, autoimmune disease, and pituitary disorders.
Karen may suspect a problem with your thyroid gland if you show the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:
The symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
To confirm the diagnosis of either type of thyroid problem, Karen will test your thyroid hormone levels. We do a “full thyroid panel” – TSH, T4 free, and T3 free. If need be, we will also test thyroid antibodies.
The treatment Ms. Steed recommends for thyroid problems will depend on the nature of your disorder.
If you have hypothyroidism, you may need to take extra thyroid hormones to make up for your thyroid gland’s inability to produce enough on its own.
If you have hyperthyroidism, you may need medication that stops the thyroid from producing high levels of hormones. In some cases, patients with hyperthyroidism that doesn’t get better with more conservative treatments may need surgery to remove the thyroid gland.
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