The thyroid gland is a gland that is located in the lower portion of the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormone which is essential for the boy’s metabolism, growth and temperature regulation.

Abnormalities of the thyroid gland may occur if it becomes underactive or overactive. Underactivity, or hypothyroidism, is very common and often the result of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It also can occur temporarily in a woman following pregnancy.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in skin and hair texture
  • Body swelling

On the other hand, an overactive thyroid gland produces symptoms that are opposite to that of hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Tremors
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feeling hot all the time
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A racing heart rate

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may cause enlargement of the thyroid gland or goiter. Furthermore, a lack of iodine in a patient’s diet may cause a goiter. For this reason, in many developed countries, iodine is added to salt to minimize this possibility. In addition to a goiter, in an autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism called Grave’s disease, the position of the eyes may be affected and become somewhat protrusive, called exophthalmos.

As goiters become larger they may cause more symptoms than the obvious cosmetic appearance. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pressure or a choking sensation
  • Difficulty breathing (especially when lying down)

Common treatments for hypothyroidism often include oral medication with thyroxine, the active hormone produced by the thyroid gland. In contrast, treatment of hyperthyroidism includes medication, radioactive iodine or thyroid surgery – all designed to lessen the activity of the thyroid gland. Our physicians at Affiliated Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians are trained in diagnosing and providing treatment for thyroid disorders.

However, not all thyroid problems are benign conditions. Sometimes, isolated growths of the thyroid gland may occur which may be found to be malignant (or cancerous). Biopsies with a needle (called fine needle aspiration or FNA) may often provide this diagnosis.

Types of thyroid cancer

Papillary – Most common form of thyroid cancer. It often grows slowly and may spread to the neck lymph nodes but has a very good prognosis.

Follicular – This type has a good prognosis, but may be more aggressive and may invade surrounding structures.

Medullary – Less commonly found (between 5 to 10 percent of thyroid cancers). It behaves more aggressively than papillary or follicular cancer and can occur in individuals with several inherited syndromes.

Anaplastic – A very aggressive but highly uncommon malignancy presenting often as an enlarging neck mass.

Primary treatment for most thyroid cancer is surgery, but is determined on an individual basis. In addition, radioactive iodine is used particularly in papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. Our physicians at Affiliated Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians are highly qualified to provide the latest options and treatments for all thyroid conditions and disorders. Contact us to schedule your appointment for evaluation or treatment.