The thyroid is an endocrine gland that’s shaped like a butterfly, located in your neck above the collarbone. It produces hormones that control various mechanisms in your body, including your heartbeat, digestion, and temperature.
Thyroid health conditions include:
Numerous factors may contribute to thyroid disorders, including overexposure to certain chemicals, such as iodine, removal of your thyroid gland, pituitary disorders, family history, and thyroid defects. Cancer of the thyroid gland is rare, but receiving radiation treatment to your neck or head early in life may increase your risk.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, may include:
An overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism, may cause:
Treatment for thyroid disorders varies, depending on factors such as the condition type and the severity of symptoms. In many cases, medications that bring hormone levels into a normal range are prescribed. If you have low thyroid levels, for example, the doctor may prescribe a supplemental form of the hormone levothyroxine. Lifestyle measures such as dietary changes may also help. In some cases, surgery is required.
Thyroid surgery is commonly performed to remove thyroid nodules. It also may be recommended if a biopsy shows cancer, possible cancer, inconclusive results, or high risk for malignancy. Surgery also can help if you have a benign but large, nodule, or the nodule causes bothersome symptoms, such as pain or difficulty swallowing.
Parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid and produce parathyroid hormones, which manage the calcium in the human body. Surgery is the most common treatment for hyperparathyroidism. It removes glands having a tumor or which are enlarged. The procedure, which may be done on an outpatient basis, is minimally invasive and patients may go home the same day. It has a high cure rate of about 95%.