Signs Of Thyroid Trouble
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists estimates that 30 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disorder. That’s a surprising number but even more startling is that up to 50% of people with thyroid disease aren’t even aware that they have it.
Such nonspecific symptoms are often easy to ignore, but the consequences of postponing diagnosis and treatment can be serious: Over the long term, untreated thyroid issues can lead to health complications ranging from an increased risk of osteoporosis to cardiovascular issues.
What Is Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland.
Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. The lump may cause problems swallowing. Some people get a hoarse voice.
To tell if the lump or nodule is cancerous, your doctor will order certain tests. Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.
For more information about thyroid cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer page.
Should I Exercise If I Have A Thyroid Disease
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. You do not need to change your exercise routine if you have a thyroid disease. Exercise does not drain your bodys thyroid hormones and it shouldnt hurt you to exercise. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a new exercise routine to make sure that its a good fit for you.
How Are Diabetes And Thyroid Disease Connected
The prevalence of thyroid disease among people with type 2 diabetes is higher than in the general population, and 17 to 30 percent of people with type 1 have thyroid disease.
Thats a pretty stark contrast to the general U.S. population where only 12 percent will develop a thyroid condition.
In other words, people living with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop thyroid disease compared to the general population.
However, that does not mean that diabetes causes thyroid disease, or vice-versa.
How The Thyroid Works
Just as the thyroid gland communicates with other organs through the hormone it produces, the pituitary gland in the brain communicates with the thyroid through a hormone it makesthyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. When the pituitary senses that thyroid hormone levels are too low, it releases more TSH to coax the thyroid into action. When the thyroid is nudged by TSH, it produces thyroid hormonea large proportion of which is thyroxine and a smaller proportion triiodothyronine . The T4 is eventually converted into T3, the “active” form that is taken up by receptors in body cells.
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How To Check Your Thyroid
This article was medically reviewed by Ricardo Correa, MD. Dr. Correa is a board certified Endocrinologist. Dr. Correa is the Program Director of the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and was a previous Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University. He completed his MD at the University of Panama and completed an internal medicine residency at the Jackson Memorial Hospital – University of Miami. He has been voted one of the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health by the National Minority Quality Forum in 2019.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 64,244 times.
The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. It is a very important gland that produces a hormone that helps regulate your entire bodys metabolism, temperature, heart rate, growth, and development. The thyroid gland can be functionally underactive or overactive. The thyroid can be enlarged, have benign nodules and, more rarely, malignant nodules.
How Is Thyroid Cancer Treated
The main treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to take out the whole thyroid gland or as much of it as can be safely removed. Surgery alone can cure thyroid cancer if the cancer is small and has not yet spread to lymph nodes.
Your doctor may also use radioiodine therapy after surgery. Radioiodine therapy destroys any thyroid cancer cells that were not removed during surgery or that have spread to other parts of the body.
Your doctor may also talk with you about other treatments for thyroid cancer. Learn more about thyroid cancer treatments at the National Cancer Institute.
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What Is Your Thyroid
The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. Its part of the endocrine system and is responsible for regulating hormones throughout your body to help you sleep, give you energy, and help you stay warm.
The main hormones it produces are thyroxine and triiodothyronine , which control how your cells use energy. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism through the release of these hormones.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesnt make enough T4, T3, or both. Its the most common thyroid condition, affecting 5% of the population worldwide, with another 5% who have the condition but havent been diagnosed.
In hyperthyroidism, the opposite occurs. The thyroid becomes too active and makes too much of the thyroid hormones.
Testing your thyroid levels at home is convenient and accurate when done correctly, and with the range of home test kits to choose from, you may find one that you like.
Read on to find out what thyroid tests are available and if theyre right for you.
Anyone can get their thyroid checked. However, certain populations can be at higher risk for thyroid disorders, including:
- people born with a uterus
- people with autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes
- people with a history of thyroid disorders
- people who smoke
- people with a family history of thyroid disorders
How Can I Check My Thyroid At Home
To check your thyroid at home, order an online test, which you will receive by mail. Once you receive your kit, carefully read and follow the instructions, which may specify the time of day to do the test.
In addition to written directions, companies may provide instructional videos and online tutorials. Contact the company or a healthcare professional before taking the test if you have questions or if any of the information is unclear.
Most tests require using a lancet to prick your finger and collect a blood sample. Drop the blood onto a test strip or into a small tube before sending it to the laboratory. Youll usually receive your electronic results within a week.
Who Should Get Testing
Thyroid function testing is often ordered when patients have symptoms of a thyroid disorder. Testing can assist with diagnosing or ruling out thyroid problems as a cause of your symptoms.
Many of the symptoms of common thyroid problems are nonspecific there is a wide range of diseases and disorders which may cause them. Thyroid function testing, which may be referred to as a full thyroid panel, complete thyroid panel, extended thyroid panel or other thyroid lab tests, may be included with other tests to evaluate if you are having trouble with a non-specific symptom like fatigue, depression, or difficulty becoming or staying pregnant.
In addition to being used for diagnosis, thyroid function tests may be performed to screen for thyroid disease in patients who have no symptoms. Newborn infants are routinely screened for hypothyroidism shortly after birth.
Screening for thyroid disease in adults is controversial. Some experts recommend screening certain groups who are at higher risk of having an underactive thyroid. These risk factors may include:
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Personal history of type I diabetes
- Personal history of autoimmune disease
- Personal history of radiation to the head and neck
Thyroid function tests are also used for treatment monitoring. Patients with known thyroid disorders will have periodic thyroid function testing to ensure their treatment is effective.
If Part Of My Thyroid Is Surgically Removed Will The Other Part Be Able To Make Enough Thyroid Hormones To Keep Me Off Of Medication
Sometimes, your surgeon may be able to remove part of your thyroid and leave the other part so that it can continue to create and release thyroid hormones. This is most likely in situations where you have a nodule thats causing your thyroid problem. About 75% of people who have only one side of the thyroid removed are able to make enough thyroid hormone after surgery without hormone replacement therapy.
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What Tests Do Doctors Use If I Have A Thyroid Nodule
If your health care professional finds a nodule or lump in your neck during a physical exam or on thyroid imaging tests, you may have a fine needle aspiration biopsy to see if the lump is cancerous or noncancerous.
For this test, you will lie on an exam table and slightly bend your neck backward. A technician will clean your neck with an antiseptic and may use medicine to numb the area. An endocrinologist who treats people with endocrine gland problems like thyroid disease, or a specially trained radiologist, will place a needle through the skin and use ultrasound to guide the needle to the nodule. Small samples of tissue from the nodule will be sent to a lab for testing. This procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. Your health care professional will talk with you about the test result when it is available.
Can I Live A Normal Life With A Thyroid Disease
A thyroid disease is often a life-long medical condition that you will need to manage constantly. This often involves a daily medication. Your healthcare provider will monitor your treatments and make adjustments over time. However, you can usually live a normal life with a thyroid disease. It may take some time to find the right treatment option for you and manage your hormone levels, but then people with these types of conditions can usually live life without many restrictions.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2020.
- Merck Manual Consumer Version. Overview of the Thyroid Gland. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- US Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Womens Health. Thyroid disease. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- American Thyroid Association. What you need to know about the thyroid. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hyperthyroidism . Accessed 11/18/2021.
- American Thyroid Association. General Information/Press Room. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hypothyroidism . Accessed 11/18/2021.
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Also Check: How To Check Thyroid Gland At Home
Why Hypothyroidism Is Not Diagnosed On Symptoms Alone
Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are fairly common complaints found in people with a normally functioning thyroid gland, so it can be hard to decipher if the symptoms are related to the thyroid. One of the best ways to figure out if your symptoms could be related to a thyroid condition is to consider how long you have been experiencing them.
For example, have you always felt cold when others were warm? Did you just start to notice decreased energy? If you are starting to notice new signs and symptoms, it could be related to a thyroid issue. However, only a physician can diagnose a thyroid problem.
Medications That Interfere With Thyroid Level Testing
Be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking birth control or another form of estrogen, or if you are pregnant, as it can cause high levels of T3 and T4.
Also, supplements that include biotin can cause thyroid function test measurements to appear abnormal. Biotin is also known as vitamin B-7.
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What Is At Home Covid Test
At home, COVID tests are easy to use to detect coronavirus without visiting or sending your samples to any nearby laboratory.
Health experts prefer it as rapid antigen tests, which are available through various sources in the United States. You can buy it from any nearby pharmacy or Walmart store. Apart from that, the federal government is also providing free tests to every household in the United States. At the same time, you can also visit nearby pharmacies and get yourself tested for free.
The regular PCR test for COVID takes around 24 to 48 hours to deliver the results, but at home, COVID tests are much faster. You can get the results from an at-home COVID test in just 15 minutes. The good part about these tests is that you do not have to send your sample to any laboratory. You can do your test by yourself sitting in your home.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test
This standard hormone test looks at your thyroid stimulating hormone . TSH is made by the pituitary gland in your brain and it works by signaling your thyroid to produce the hormones your body needs.
When your thyroid is under-functioning, your TSH level will usually be elevated because your pituitary gland is trying to prompt your thyroid gland to produce more hormones.
The typical normal range for TSH is 0.54.5 or 5.0 milli-international units per liter , but this can vary depending on the laboratory that’s doing the testing. However, there’s some controversy concerning what’s actually normal. Some experts believe that 2.5 or 3.0 mIU/L should be the top end of the range. Others think it should be adjusted to include a higher normal range for elderly adults and people with morbid obesity .
If your TSH level falls under 0.5 mIU/L, this indicates that you have an overactive thyroid . Numbers above the normal range, usually 5.0 mIU/L or higher, show that you may have hypothyroidism. In this case, your healthcare provider will do the test again in a few weeks to make sure the elevation wasn’t temporary.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism
At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
- Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
- Eating more than usual
- Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
- Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
- Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation
Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.
How Are Thyroid Diseases Diagnosed
It can be hard to tell if you have a thyroid disease. The symptoms are the same as many other health problems. Your doctor may start by asking about your health history and if any of your family members has had thyroid disease. Your doctor may also give you a physical exam and check your neck for thyroid nodules.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may also do other tests, such as:
- Blood tests. Testing the level of thyroid stimulating hormone in your blood can help your doctor figure out if your thyroid is overactive or underactive. TSH tells your thyroid to make thyroid hormones. Depending on the results, your doctor might do another blood test to check levels of one or both thyroid hormones in your blood.
- Radioactive iodine uptake test. For this test, you swallow a liquid or capsule that holds a small dose of radioactive iodine . The radioiodine collects in your thyroid because your thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormone.
High levels of radioiodine mean that your thyroid makes too much of the thyroid hormone. Low levels mean that your thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormone.
Read Also: Fine Needle Aspiration Of Thyroid
How Hashimoto’s Disease Is Diagnosed
Hashimotos disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, is a condition in which your bodys immune system begins to attack your thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. This can cause your thyroid to become inflamed and damaged, leading to an underactive thyroid .
While Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, not all people with the disorder develop hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is typically diagnosed by a combination of your signs, symptoms, and blood tests.
How Does Thyroid Disease Affect Pregnancy
Pregnancy-related hormones raise the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Thyroid hormones are necessary for the baby’s brain development while in the womb.
It can be harder to diagnose thyroid problems during pregnancy because of the change in hormone levels that normally happen during pregnancy. But it is especially important to check for problems before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause problems for both mother and baby.
Hyperthyroidism that is not treated with medicine during pregnancy can cause:4
- Premature birth
- Preeclampsia, a serious condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. The only cure for preeclampsia is childbirth.
- Fast heart rate in the newborn, which can lead to heart failure, poor weight gain, or an enlarged thyroid that can make it hard to breathe
- Low birth weight
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