What Is The Thyroid?

1.What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a small organ that is located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe (trachea). It is shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid is a gland that makes hormones that help control many vital functions of your body.

2. What happens when the thyroid is not functioning properly?

When your thyroid doesn’t function properly, it can impact your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. Both conditions can become serious and need to be treated by your healthcare provider

3.Who is affected by thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease can affect anyone but a woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.

4.Who all are at higher risk of developing a thyroid disease?

You may be at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease if you:• Have a family history of thyroid disease.• Have medical conditions like pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and Turner syndrome.• Take a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone).• Are older than 60, especially women.

5.What common symptoms can happen with thyroid disease?

There are a variety of symptoms you could experience if you have a thyroid disease. It could be related to having too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or due to having too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism).

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include:• Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.• Having trouble sleeping.• Losing weight.• Having an enlarged thyroid gland or a goitre.• Having muscle weakness and tremors.• Experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop.• Feeling sensitive to heat.• Having vision problems or eye irritation.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:• Feeling tired.• Gaining weight.• Having frequent and heavy menstrual periods.• Having dry and coarse hair.• Having a hoarse voice.• Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures

6.What are thyroid swellings?

A swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland is called a goitre. 90% of the time these swellings are benign but there is that 10% chance of them being cancerous. Hence it is necessary that you should arrange an appointment with your doctor as soon as you find a thyroid lump or swelling.

7.What are the usual tests performed to investigate thyroid lumps and swellings?

There are various tests that can be carried out to find the cause of your thyroid problem. These include:• Blood tests – this is usually the first test performed and is done to ensure that your thyroid is not over- or under-active.• Ultrasound scan – this is painless and uses sound waves from a probe to examine the structure of the thyroid gland.• Fine needle aspiration cytology – Here some cells are removed from a thyroid swelling using a thin needle and are then examined under a microscope.• Radiological – a CT scan may be performed to check the position of a goitre in relation to the windpipe (trachea) and gullet (oesophagus).• Physical exam- Another quick method to check the thyroid is with a physical exam in your healthcare provider’s office. This is a very simple and painless test where your provider feels your neck for any growths or enlargement of the thyroid.

8.What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer, the most common endocrine-related cancer, presents as a lump (nodule) in the thyroid and usually does not cause any other symptoms. Rarely, thyroid cancer may cause pain, difficulty swallowing, or hoarseness

9.What causes thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is more common in people who have a history of exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation or a family history of thyroid cancer. Also, thyroid cancer is more common as we get older. In most patients, we do not know why thyroid cancer forms

10.How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?

A diagnosis of thyroid cancer is typically made on the basis of a needle biopsy of a thyroid nodule or is confirmed by testing after the nodule is removed during surgery. Although thyroid nodules are very common, less than 1 in 10 contain a thyroid cancer.

11.What are the types of thyroid cancer?

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer (70% to 80% of thyroid cancers) and can occur at any age. Follicular thyroid cancer (10% to 15% of thyroid cancers) tends to occur in somewhat older patients than does papillary cancer. Medullary thyroid cancer (5% to 10% of thyroid cancers) is more likely to run in families and may be diagnosed by genetic testing. Anaplastic thyroid cancer (less then 2% of thyroid cancers) is the least likely to respond to treatment.

12.How is thyroid cancer treated?

The primary therapy for patients with thyroid cancer is surgery, followed by thyroid hormone therapy for the rest of their life. Radioactive iodine may be used to destroy any remaining thyroid cells, both normal and cancerous, after removal of the thyroid gland by surgery

13.What is Radioactive Iodine Therapy?

For radioactive iodine to be effective, high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) need to be produced in your body. This can be done by stopping your thyroid hormone and your becoming hypothyroid for a short time or by administering Thyrogen® (synthetic human TSH) injections. A low iodine diet may also help . Once the TSH level is high enough a large dose of radioactive iodine (I131) is given and then the thyroid hormone pills are re-started. Radioactive iodine is usually well-tolerated, with few side effects.

14.What is the follow-up of thyroid cancer patients?

Periodic follow-up examinations are essential for all thyroid cancer patients and include a careful history, physical examination and blood tests to measure the levels of T4 and thyroglobulin. Thyroglobulin is a protein made by both normal and most cancerous cells and can be used as a thyroid cancer marker. Elevated levels of thyroglobulin may prompt further tests such as a neck ultrasound. Your doctor may want to periodically repeat a whole body iodine scan to determine if any thyroid cells remain in the body.

15.What is the prognosis of thyroid cancer?

Overall, the prognosis of thyroid cancer is very good, especially for patients younger than 45 years of age and for those with small cancers, most of whom may be cured. Even those patients who are unable to be cured of their thyroid cancer are able to live many years and feel well despite their cancer.

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