A Thyroid Nodule is a solid or fluid-filled lump that forms within the thyroid gland, a hormone gland that is wrapped around your neck under the Adam’s apple.
While most thyroid nodules are small and go away with time if you have any of these symptoms it may be time to speak with a doctor for testing.
For cases of an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism you may suffer from:
- Feeling cold all the time
- Memory problems or trouble concentrating
- Depression and fatigue
For cases of an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism you may suffer from:
- Sudden weight loss, even if your appetite has increased or is normal
- Pounding heartbeat, tremors
- Muscle weakness
Diagnosis and Treatment
Thyroid nodules are often discovered during a routine physical exam. Your doctor might discover a growth or swelling around your neck and perform further imaging tests. These are performed in order to get a better idea of the size of nodules, assess whether you are suffering from hypo or hyperthyroidism, as well as determine if the growth may be cancerous.
These tests include:
- Hormone Test – Your doctor will perform a blood test in order to test your thyroid hormone levels and see if your thyroid is performing properly
- Antibody Test – Depending on your blood work, your doctor may perform an antibody test in order to rule out Hashimoto’s or Graves disease, a thyroid condition linked to an autoimmune disorder
- Ultrasound of the thyroid – A ultrasound uses sound waves in order to create an image of your thyroid, which helps your doctor reveal the size of the thyroid and nodules affecting the thyroid
- Radioactive iodine uptake test – Your doctor may prescribe this test in order to understand your thyroid function. They will inject you with a small amount of radioactive iodine and scan your thyroid gland in order to see how your thyroid absorbs it
- Biopsy – Your doctor may perform a microscopic biopsy of your neck tissue cells in order to rule out the possibility of a cancerous growth causing your condition
Depending on the size of the nodules, severity of symptoms, and causes of the thyroid nodules, your doctor may perform any of these treatment options.
- Watchful waiting – In most cases, thyroid nodules are small, noncancerous, and have little chance of growing. In these cases, your doctor may advise no treatment but will prescribe a careful observation schedule with regularly timed testing intervals. If the thyroid has caused new growth or causing new symptoms report it to your doctor immediately
- Medications – Underactive thyroids (Hypothyroidism) will often be treated with hormone supplements like levothyroxine (Levoxyl), while overactive thyroids (Hyperthyroidism) will be treated with drugs like methimazole (Tapazole) which may reduce the size of the goiter.
- Surgery – If your thyroid is affecting your ability to breath or swallow, or is connected with thyroid cancer, you may need surgery in the form of a total or partial thyroidectomy. If surgery is performed, you will often need to take regular hormone supplements in order to replace the hormones your thyroid would usually produce
However, in most cases, thyroid nodules do not need treatments and can be managed with aspirin, and a diet that focuses on increasing supplies of iodine in the form of:
- Saltwater fish such as salmon and tuna
- Soy and dairy products
If you have any concerns regarding your thyroid, speak to a medical professional today.