thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located just below your Adam's apple.
The thyroid produces hormones that affect your body's metabolism and energy level. Thyroid problems are among the most common medical conditions but, because their symptoms often appear gradually, they are commonly misdiagnosed
The three most common thyroid problems are the underactive thyroid, the overactive thyroid , and thyroid nodules.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In this condition, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
Fatigue or lack of energy
Dry skin and hair
Heavy menstrual periods
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease. This occurs when the body's immune system overstimulates the thyroid.
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
Jitteriness, shaking, increased nervousness, irritability
Rapid heart beat or palpitations
Fatigue, feeling exhausted
More frequent bowel movements
Shorter or lighter menstrual periods
Thyroid nodules are fairly common and usually harmless. However, about 4% of nodules are cancerous, so further testing needs to be done. This is usually best accomplished by fine needle aspiration biopsy. This is a quick and simple test that takes just a few minutes to perform in the doctor's office. If the biopsy does not raise any suspicion of cancer, the nodule is usually observed. Some thyroid specialists recommend treatment with thyroid hormone to try to decrease the size of the nodule. A second biopsy is usually recommended 6-12 months later, to make sure there continues to be no evidence of cancer. If a nodule is cancerous, suspicious for cancer, or grows large enough to interfere with swallowing or breathing, surgical removal is advised.