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Thyroid Gland Issues

It doesn't look like much - a small, butterfly-shaped gland, just below your Adam's apple. But your thyroid gland has a big effect on the way your body works. The thyroid controls your body's energy level, and problems with your thyroid gland can interfere with your life. However, these problems can be treated. You and your doctor can discuss how best to handle your thyroid problem.

Problems with your Thyroid

You may not hear much about thyroid problems, but they're common and affect many people. Having a thyroid problem may mean that your thyroid gland is underactive and doesn't work hard enough. Or, it may mean that your gland is overactive and works too hard. Your thyroid gland may also grow larger or develop lumps.

An Underactive Thyroid

When the thyroid doesn't work hard enough, it's called hypothyroidism. If you have hypothyroidism, your body runs more slowly and you have less energy. You may notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Feeling sluggish and tired
  • Getting cold easily
  • Gaining weight more easily

An Overactive Thyroid

When the thyroid works too hard, it's called hyperthyroidism. If you have hyperthyroidism, your body runs faster. You may notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Getting hot easily
  • Feeling wired and jittery, but also burned out and tired
  • Losing weight without dieting

Thyroid Nodules

Your thyroid gland may develop one or more small lumps. These lumps are called nodules. If you have nodules, your thyroid usually continues to work at the right pace. As a result, you may not notice any symptoms, although you may be able to feel the nodule in your neck. Nodules are usually harmless, but occasionally they may be a sign of thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Problems can be Treated

Problems with the thyroid gland are often easy to treat. Even most forms of thyroid cancer are treatable, and the treatment often has a good outcome. Your doctor will evaluate your problem and discuss your treatment options with you. Depending on your type of problem, possible treatments include medications, thyroid hormone pills, surgery, and other procedures.

Before deciding on the best treatment for your thyroid problem, your doctor will evaluate you. This evaluation may include a thorough medical history, a physical exam, some tests, and sometimes other special procedures. These tests and procedures can help your doctor determine what type of thyroid problem you have and its cause.

Call your doctor if you notice any of these signs, or any other problems.