Symp­tom check

There are range of things that can go wrong with your thyroid.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Health -

Hy­pothy­roidism

When the thyroid is un­der­ac­tive as it doesn’t pro­duce enough hor­mone.

What you no­tice: Symp­toms may be sub­tle or ob­vi­ous. They in­clude fa­tigue, weight gain, con­sti­pa­tion, dry skin and hair, hoarse­ness, high choles­terol level, stiff joints, mus­cle weak­ness, de­pres­sion, brain fog, in­tol­er­ance to cold weather, in­fer­til­ity in women and pe­riod changes. There may be a goitre – a dif­fuse gen­er­alised swelling.

What to do: See your doc­tor to in­ves­ti­gate via a blood or urine test or ul­tra­sound. Treat­ment is thyroid hor­mone re­place­ment tablets, reg­u­larly mon­i­tored to en­sure the right hor­mone lev­els.

No­d­ules

No­d­ules are lumps that grow in the thyroid tis­sue and you may see a lump that moves with swal­low­ing. Most are be­nign but if a nod­ule looks sus­pi­cious on ul­tra­sound, a nee­dle biopsy will be nec­es­sary. No­d­ules will be mon­i­tored reg­u­larly with ul­tra­sound and ab­nor­mal thyroid function needs med­i­ca­tion. If a nod­ule is sus­pi­cious you will be re­ferred for spe­cial­ist ad­vice.

Thyroid cancer

There are five types of thyroid cancer: pap­il­lary, fol­lic­u­lar, medullary, anaplas­tic and thyroid lym­phoma.

What you no­tice: A goitre, signs of hy­per­thy­roidism, changes in your voice, cough or trou­ble swal­low­ing.

What to do: Your doc­tor will ar­range an ul­tra­sound and nee­dle biopsy. Treat­ment op­tions in­clude surgery to re­move the thyroid gland, and ra­dioac­tive io­dine. Af­ter the thyroid is re­moved, life­long thyroid hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy is needed.

Hy­per­thy­roidism (Thy­ro­tox­i­co­sis)

When the thyroid pro­duces too much hor­mone, which speeds up your me­tab­o­lism. The most com­mon cause is Graves’ dis­ease, an au­toim­mune con­di­tion.

What you no­tice: Anx­i­ety, ag­i­ta­tion, weight loss, pal­pi­ta­tions, di­ar­rhoea, ab­sent or ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods and in­tol­er­ance of hot weather.

What to do: Your doc­tor will ar­range thyroid function test­ing. Usual treat­ment is a med­i­ca­tion called neomer­ca­zole. Ra­dioac­tive io­dine or surgery may be needed.

Goitre

A goitre is an en­large­ment of the thyroid gland.

What you no­tice: There may be a swelling in the front of your neck. Depending on its size, a goitre may cause you to have a cough, hoarse­ness or dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing. You may have symp­toms of over­ac­tive or un­der­ac­tive thyroid.

Causes: Io­dine de­fi­ciency, au­toim­mune thyroid dis­ease, cyst or no­d­ules, or thyroid cancer.

What to do: Your GP will ar­range a blood test for thyroid function, thyroid an­ti­bod­ies and an ul­tra­sound. If there is a sus­pi­cious nod­ule it will be biop­sied.

Thy­roidi­tis

Thy­roidi­tis refers to in­flam­ma­tion of the thyroid gland. This is an au­toim­mune process where the body’s im­mune sys­tem at­tacks the thyroid gland and is usu­ally re­ferred to as Hashimoto’s thy­roidi­tis or Hashimoto’s dis­ease. It may run in fam­i­lies. Typ­i­cally it in­volves a pe­riod of over­ac­tiv­ity of the thyroid fol­lowed by hy­pothy­roidism. Treat­ment is needed to con­trol symp­toms.

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