What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a tiny gland at the base of the neck that has an incredible amount of control over many of the body’s functions. The thyroid is critical in regulating hormones that affect everything from metabolism to body temperature to heart rate. When the thyroid is functioning as normal, we give it very little thought. In people with under- or overactive thyroids, however, symptoms can be quite uncomfortable.
What are the symptoms produced by hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces too much thyroxine (the “thyroid hormone”). This can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Rapid weight loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tremor in the hands and fingers
- Muscle weakness
- Increased heat sensitivity
- Increased appetite
- Anxiety, irritability, nervousness
- Swelling at the base of the neck
- …and others
If you experience any of these symptoms – especially rapid heartbeat and/or unexplained weight loss – be sure to see your primary care provider in Nashville for an evaluation. While these signs and symptoms are certainly not exclusive to hyperthyroidism, they can be indicators of a serious thyroid condition.
What are the symptoms produced by hypothyroidism?
While some people struggle with an overactive thyroid, others are troubled by a thyroid gland that doesn’t produce enough thyroxine. Women over the age of 60 are most likely to experience hypothyroidism, though anyone can develop this condition. The good news is, once diagnosed, hypothyroidism can oftentimes be managed easily through the prescription of a synthetic thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
- Achy, tender or stiff muscles
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Increased cold sensitivity
How can I get care for thyroid issues?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described here, see your primary care doctor for an evaluation. If you don’t have a primary care doctor in Nashville, contact St. Thomas Medical Group to schedule an appointment. Your physician may be able to provide a diagnosis and treatment through oral medication.
When is thyroid surgery recommended?
Thyroid surgery may be recommended for patients with nodules on the thyroid. (Note that there is not necessarily a correlation between the presence of nodules and hormone levels or thyroid function.) At St. Thomas Medical Group, surgical treatment is performed by surgeons at Nashville ENT and Allergy Clinic; all physicians are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.
During the procedure, which is typically done using a minimally invasive approach, a small incision is made for removing the nodules. Patients typically go home that day. Downtime from the surgery is as little as a few days.