The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It is part of the endocrine system. The thyroid gland plays a role in the function of the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, skin and just about every organ in the body. It is responsible for metabolism, growth and maturation in patients from infants to adults, both male and female.
Thyroid nodules can cause a wide variety of symptoms, making the diagnosis difficult. That’s why it’s best to rely upon the experience and expertise of the doctors and staff at Sierra Nevada ENT.
If you need thyroid nodule evaluation or surgery, you can be assessed by our professional team.
What Causes Thyroid Problems?
Different thyroid disorders can appear when your thyroid produces either too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). Other thyroid problems include Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, goiter, and thyroid nodules. Sometimes nodules require surgery. Our practice specializes in evaluation of thyroid nodules and thyroid surgery.
What are Thyroid Nodules
A thyroid nodule is any abnormal growth that forms within the thyroid gland. Often, this growth is small and will go unnoticed until the patient is examined by a doctor. Sometimes, however, the nodule may grow large enough to impact thyroid function and/or a patient’s health. Symptoms may include:
- Swelling that can be seen or felt at the base of the neck
- Shortness of breath or problems swallowing
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Rapid, irregular or “pounding” heartbeat
- Muscle weakness or tremors (particularly in the hands)
- Heat sensitivity or excessive sweating
- Difficulty sleeping or fatigue
- Agitation or irritability
- Thinning hair, itchy or flushed skin (particularly in the face/upper chest)
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, it is important to make an appointment with a medical professional. While 95 percent of thyroid nodules are benign (not harmful), some are cancerous. The doctors at Sierra Nevada ENT specialize in evaluating, diagnosing and treating thyroid nodules.
When you visit us, we will begin with an interview about your medical history, symptoms and a physical exam. We may also recommend an ultrasound or radionuclide scan, a blood test to determine thyroid hormone levels and/or a biopsy of the nodule. Based on these results, we are able to create an individualized thyroid nodule treatment plan that works best for each of our patients.
Thyroid nodule treatment differs depending upon the diagnosis and can range from “watchful waiting” to thyroid surgery. Our doctors work closely as a team with our endocrinology colleagues to recommend the best course of treatment and/or surgery, if needed.
- “Watchful waiting” means no immediate treatment is needed, but our doctors will continue to monitor your condition for any changes. This is typically the recommended path if the nodule is benign and the patient is experiencing minimal symptoms.
- Antithyroid medications may be prescribed to reduce the amount of hormone the thyroid is producing. These pills can be taken orally and are a potential treatment for those whose benign thyroid nodules are the result of hyperthyroidism and who experience mild to moderate symptoms.
- Radioactive iodine therapy may be used to target thyroid cancer or, in some cases, hyperthyroidism that causes severe symptoms.
- Thyroid surgery (or thyroidectomy) is removal of the thyroid nodule. The degree to which the thyroid tissue is removed is best determined by the thyroid surgeon. This treatment is typically recommended when the thyroid nodule is cancerous, when biopsy results are atypical or indicate a risk of malignancy or if symptoms are impacting a patient’s daily functions.
The specialists and thyroid surgeons at Sierra Nevada ENT can help evaluate thyroid nodules and determine which treatment plan makes the most sense for you.