What Are Thyroid Nodules?

doctor examining a patient's thyroid You may never know you have a thyroid nodule. These tiny growths on the thyroid gland may not cause any symptoms and are usually benign. However, sometimes they interfere with the thyroid gland and require treatment. Read on to learn what thyroid nodules are, the symptoms they may cause, and how to effectively treat them.

What Are Thyroid Nodules?

A thyroid nodule is a solid or fluid-filled growth that appears in the front of your neck in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is extremely important in regulating how your body utilizes energy by processing elements like magnesium and phosphorus. When nodules produce too much thyroid hormone, they can suppress the function of the thyroid gland, which leads to health problems.

What Causes Thyroid Nodules to Form?

A thyroid gland that overproduces hormones causes hyperthyroidism. Conversely, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Either of these conditions can cause a thyroid nodule to form. Factors contributing to nodule formation include:

  • Thyroid Cysts – These usually benign growths are fluid-filled sacs resulting from deteriorating thyroid adenomas. Occasionally the solid parts of the cyst can contain malignant cells.
  • Thyroid Tissue Overgrowth – Known as an adenoma, this tissue growth is usually noncancerous and doesn’t cause symptoms unless it grows overly large.
  • Thyroiditis (chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland) – Also known as Hashimoto’s disease, this condition is associated with hypothyroidism and causes an inflammation of the thyroid and any nodules that are present.
  • Iodine Deficiency – This condition is now rare in the U.S. since iodine is fortified in table salt.
  • Goiters – This term refers to an overgrowth of the thyroid gland for any reason. A goiter usually contains many nodules, but the underlying cause is unknown.
  • Cancer of the Thyroid – A rare condition that is more likely to occur in males, in those who’ve been exposed to high levels of radiation, have a family history of the disease, or are under 30 or over 60 years of age.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules?

A thyroid nodule can cause the following symptoms:

  • A sore throat or full feeling in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Noticeable swelling in the neck
  • Difficulty breathing

When the nodule causes hyperthyroidism, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nervousness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

If a thyroid nodule causes hypothyroidism, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Depression
  • Weak muscles
  • Stiff or painful joints
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Thinning hair

What are the Treatment Options?

The proper course of treatment for a thyroid nodule is based on symptoms you’re experiencing or if the nodules are cancerous. Treatment options can include:

  • Monitoring – With regular doctor visits, your doctor will perform specific tests to determine proper thyroid function.
  • Hyperthyroid Treatment – Your doctor will treat this condition by prescribing medication in pill form to suppress the thyroid’s release of hormones.
  • Radioactive Iodine – This liquid medication helps shrink goiters or over-active adenomas.
  • Surgery – When a thyroid nodule is cancerous or causing debilitating symptoms, surgery to remove the nodules is the best option.

Visit Lakeside ENT for Thyroid Nodule Treatment

If you feel like you may be experiencing symptoms due to thyroid nodules, make an appointment with the expert physicians at Lakeside Allergy ENT. Our three board-certified otolaryngologists specialize in treating all conditions of the ears, nose, and throat, including diagnosing and treating thyroid nodules. With convenient locations in Wylie, Rockwall, and Forney, fill out our easy form to make your appointment today.

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