A thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth within the thyroid gland that can be a solid lump or one filled with fluid. Most nodules are noncancerous with less than 5 percent being diagnosed as cancer. In most cases, you may not even realize there is a nodule because most don’t produce symptoms.
If your doctor discovers thyroid nodules, one of the following tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis: a thyroid hormone level (blood) test, an ultrasound, a fine-needle aspiration biopsy or a thyroid scan.
Once accurately diagnosed, treatment options can include radioactive iodine, surgery or radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which is a less invasive, nonsurgical procedure.
Parathyroid glands produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH). When one or more of these four glands, which are located behind the thyroid at the base of the neck and are each about the size of a grain of rice, produce too much PTH in the blood steam it’s known as hyperparathyroidism.
PTH regulates calcium levels in the body and when there is too much or too little, it can lead to serious conditions like osteoporosis (too little) or risk of stroke (too much).
Treatment options for hyperparathyroidism depend on the severity of the diagnosis. In mild cases, your physician will monitor your calcium, blood pressure, kidney function and bone density. If your symptoms are more severe, surgery may be a more appropriate solution. Medical management is also a possibility.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are two conditions in which the thyroid makes too much or too little of the thyroid hormone. Either condition can be caused by other diseases or can be hereditary and women are more likely to be diagnosed than men.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, unexplained weight gain and sensitivity to cold – among other things. Hyperthyroidism can cause increased metabolism, a rapid or irregular heartbeat and weight loss.
Treatment options can include thyroid hormone replacement for hypothyroidism and radioactive iodine, medications and sometimes surgery for hyperthyroidism.