Most everyone has heard of the thyroid, but not everyone knows its purpose. It is known as a butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the very front of our necks, below our Adam’s Apple and partially around our windpipes. Its purpose is to send thyroid hormones throughout our bodies that assist in regulating everything from mood, heart function, and metabolic rates.
During an annual physical, your physician may feel your neck with their hands. The purpose of this is often to check for swelling in both your lymph nodes and thyroid gland. If swelling is present and coincides with other symptoms, such as weight gain or weight loss, it may be indicative of a health condition involving your thyroid. Additional symptoms to look out for may include coarse hair, dry skin, bulging eyes, and constipation.
If these symptoms are present, your physician is likely to order diagnostic tests to help determine if your thyroid’s hormone production levels are the underlying cause. These tests may include an ultrasound to look for tumors and abnormal size, in addition to thorough bloodwork that will determine if low or high levels of thyroid hormones are involved.
If it is found that you have abnormally high or abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones, you will likely receive prescriptions for medication that will help regulate your thyroid’s hormone levels. Here are a few symptoms, their associated diagnosis, and the potential treatment options that you will want to discuss with our care provider.
1) If you are experiencing weight gain, fatigue, constipation, or depression, you may have low thyroid hormone production. After testing, if you are found to have low thyroid hormone production, our provider may diagnose you with Hashimoto’s Disease or Hypothyroidism.
Treatment for this is expected to include synthetic hormone replacement that will help regulate the associated symptoms you are experiencing. This may mean you will be able to more easily lose weight while feeling more energized. The reduction in fatigue and weight is likely to help you feel more like yourself again, significantly improving your mood as a result.
2) Hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease symptoms include bulging eyes, weight loss, and the inability to gain weight. Treatment for this may involve surgery to remove your thyroid altogether.
3) If through a physical exam, your thyroid feels swollen or abnormal in size, you may have what is called goiter or thyroiditis. This condition may not present any additional symptoms and is not always painful. Treatment for this may involve surgery or synthetic hormones.
4) In rare instances, abnormalities may indicate thyroid cancer. Performing an ultrasound may show if a tumor is present. Thyroid cancer is often easily treatable through radiation or surgery and is typically not life-threatening.
Scheduling an appointment Enhanced Wellness Living is the first step in determining if your weight gain, depression, fatigue, coarse hair, constipation, or weight loss can be attributed to thyroid abnormalities. If a diagnosis is given, physician-monitored treatment will surely help you to feel like yourself again in due time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!