Thyroid Nodules: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland which is located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid gland can make thyroid hormones which can help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as usual.

Thyroid nodules are unusual growth of thyroid cells which form solid or fluid-filled lumps in the thyroid gland. They may be hyperplasia or a thyroid neoplasm, but only a small part of thyroid neoplasms are thyroid cancers. Small nodules which have no symptoms are common. Many people don’t aware of the nodules until they enlarge, or their doctor gives them a routine medical exam.

Some thyroid nodules may enlarge and the patient will have difficulty swallowing or breathing. According to the statistics, about 90% of thyroid nodules are benign which means they are non-cancerous. In men, about 8% of thyroid nodules are thyroid cancers, while 4% of thyroid nodules are thyroid cancers in women.

Causes

Common causes may include the following:

  • Iodine deficiency
  • Multinodular goiter
  • Overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue
  • Thyroid cyst
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Chronic inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis)

Symptoms

Many small thyroid nodules have no symptoms, others may have symptoms such as:

  • Swelling in the neck
  • Pressure on the esophagus
  • Difficult to breathe or swallow
  • Weight loss
  • Increased perspiration
  • Tremor
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle weakness

Symptoms of thyroid nodules may be related to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Thus, some symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may be considered as the symptoms of thyroid nodules.

Diagnosis

Most of the thyroid nodules are found during a routine physical exam. If your doctor found any abnormallity in your thyroid gland, they may order you to have a blood test for thyroid gland functions. Sometimes you may need more tests, including:

  • Ultrasonography
  • Thyroid scan
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, which is to distinguish the thyroid nodules are benign or malignant

Treatment

The treatment of the thyroid nodules often depends on the nature of your nodules.

  • Small benign nodules often should have regular inspections. If they enlarge or have a trend to be malignant, your doctors may recommend surgery.
  • Big nodules usually influence your daily life, which can make you have difficulty swallowing or breathing. Your doctors usually recommend surgery to remove the nodules.

Some small thyroid nodules won’t change their nature and size after regular inspections, so these don’t need treatment. Others may not big enough to have an FNA biopsy. You should go to see your doctors regularly and watch them carefully.

Some thyroid nodule are associated with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, doctors may give you some treatment options to treat it, such as:

Please consult your doctors for your treatment options.


Keywords: thyroid nodules; thyroid gland; hypothyroidism; hyperthyroidism.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.