The thyroid gland plays a critical role in how our bodies grow and use energy. Located in the lower neck, right below your voice box, this bowtie-shaped gland is vulnerable to a number of serious conditions and disorders.
Every year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with thyroid related conditions and diseases. Twelve percent of people will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their lives, and it’s estimated that 60 percent of those suffering from thyroid conditions don’t even know it. It’s critically important to see a certified ENT & Allergy doctor as soon as signs of a thyroid condition occur. These symptoms include:
- Decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss
- An increased heart rate, heart palpitations, increases in blood pressure or perspiration, or physical anxiety
- Frequent bowel movements and/or diarrheaÂ
- Weakness, lethargy, or shaking of the hands
- Goiters, which are an enlargement of the thyroid gland resulting in pronounced swelling of the neck and difficulty swallowing
- Shorter or lighter menstrual periods in women
You may be at higher risk for thyroid disorders if they run in your family’s history or if you’ve undergone radiation therapy in the head or neck for conditions like acne. If you display any of the above symptoms, it may indicate a thyroid problem or disorder such as hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland). After taking a medical history and conducting a physical examination, we may perform some tests, such as:
- An evaluation of your larynx with a mirror or fiberoptic telescope
- An ultrasound on your thyroid
- Blood tests to determine thyroid function
- Chest X-rays
- A CT or MRI scan
Treating a Thyroid Condition
Depending on your condition, we offer a range of treatment options for thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with thyroid hormone replacement pills, which encourage activity in the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism can typically be treated with medication that blocks excessive hormone production, radioactive iodine (which shrinks the thyroid gland), or surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Patients with chronic thyroid conditions may also be at higher risk of thyroid cancer, which is usually curable through surgery and radioactive iodine. More severe cases of thyroid cancer may require extensive thyroid and neck surgery, or possibly radiation therapy.
How we choose to treat a thyroid condition is approached on a case-by-case basis, depending on its severity and type. But the first step is visiting an ENT doctor to ensure that your symptoms are treated promptly. If you have had a previous evaluation, blood testing or imaging done of your thyroid, and have been told there is an abnormality, please reach out to Laurel ENT. We can determine if additional treatments, tests, and biopsies are required during your evaluation.