Thyroid Goitre and Nodules
Thyroid goitre and nodules are abnormal enlargements or growths in the thyroid gland. The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland wraps around the windpipe (trachea) and produces hormones key to regulating metabolism and other important body functions. A “goitre” is an abnormal enlargement of the gland and does not necessarily mean the thyroid is malfunctioning. Thyroid nodules are abnormal tissue growth in the gland.
What Are the Causes?
Iodine deficiency has been identified as a cause of both the thyroid goitre and nodules. The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones and an iodine deficient diet will signal to the gland to increase production causing it to grow in size.
Other conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease inflame the tissue and create enlarged nodules or a goitre. Large and hard nodules can be a sign of thyroid cancer, which is a fairly common malignancy. Thyroid cancer patients tend to do well after surgery to remove the thyroid and often have a normal survival. Sometimes the thyroid may have an overactive (toxic) nodule which causes hyperthyroidism and needs to be removed surgically.
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Symptoms of Thyroid Goitre and Nodules
Thyroid goitre and enlarged nodules may cause swelling at the base of the neck, make breathing or swallowing difficult, and can be felt.
Goitres may also cause coughing and hoarseness. Most thyroid nodules are small and do not have signs or symptoms. Additionally, symptoms of hyperthyroidism – sudden weight loss, pounding heart, trouble sleeping, muscle weakness and nervousness – can be a sign of thyroid nodules.
Nodules are 95% non-cancerous. Both women and men develop nodules (the rate is 3 times higher for women) and the likelihood of nodules forming increases with age. Nodules are detected during a routine neck exam.
Thyroid Surgery Figures
Total (thyroidectomy) or partial (lobectomy) removal of the thyroid gland is a treatment option for thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism (overproduction of the hormone thyroxine). The procedure is very safe. Less than 1% of patients have damaged vocal chords after surgery.
Similarly 1% of patients develop a condition called hypoparathyroidism whereby the body has trouble controlling calcium levels. Hypoparathyroidism can be treated with calcium supplements. After a thyroidectomy or totally removed thyroid, patients will need to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of their life.
Enquire about resolving thyroid issues and how to start the new you by calling (08) 9386 2634.