Thyroid problems affect your metabolism and every system in your body. Libu Varughese, MD and Jongoh Kim, MD, at Endocrine Diabetes Plus Clinic encourage patients to come in at the earliest sign of thyroid problems. Early treatment can safeguard you from serious problems such as high blood pressure, infertility, etc. Please call the offices in Houston, Texas or Memorial City, Texas to schedule a prompt appointment or use the online booking feature.
Thyroid Problem Q & A
What is hypothyroidism?
Thyroid gland is an essential endocrine gland located in your neck. It is essential for metabolism and other functions. Consider it to be your accelerator of the car, as it determines your metabolism. When the thyroid gland underperforms, this leads to a condition called hypothyroidism, where it does not produce enough of these hormones. Hyperthyroidism in contrast to hypothyroidism is a condition when the gland is overactive and produces too many hormones.
What symptoms develop due to hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is determined when your thyroid gland is underactive and unable to produce enough hormones. Common cause for hypothyroidism is due to an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It may also develop due to other medications, overtreatment of hyperthyroidism, thyroid tumors, etc.
As hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism, patients start to experience symptoms such as:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Difficulty sleeping
- Joint or muscle pain
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Untreated hypothyroidism may lead to complications such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, infertility, and damaged peripheral nerves. The worst-case scenario includes heart failure, Myxedema coma, and death.
What symptoms develop due to hyperthyroidism?
When your thyroid gland is overactive and produces excessive amounts of hormones then this is a condition called hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is fraught with more complications as it can lead to eye problems (known as orbitopathy), osteoporosis, heart conditions such as arrhythmias, and atrial fibrillation.
The common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Anxiety- nervousness and irritability
- Palpitation (the feeling like your heart is beating very fast)
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat (typically a heart rate >90/min)
- Dry, brittle hair
- Sensitivity to heat
- Tremor in hands and fingers
Causes for hyperthyroidism are several and needs to be managed properly by an endocrinologist. Some of the possibilities include an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. A toxic thyroid nodule is another possibility for which further imaging tests are warranted.
What are thyroid nodules?
A thyroid nodule occurs when cells overgrow to form a lump in the thyroid gland. There are several kinds of thyroid nodules which may either be solid, solid cystic, or cystic. Cystic nodules are fluid-filled and generally benign. Thyroid nodules that are solid are more worrisome and will have to be monitored. We determine whether it is concerning for cancer by the current size, rate of growth, and sonographic features. Dr. Varughese performs thyroid nodule ultrasounds and biopsies in the clinic when cancer is suspected.
Thyroid nodules may also become toxic, which means they produce thyroid hormones. As a result, they contribute to hyperthyroidism.
How are thyroid problems diagnosed and treated?
Dr. Kim and Dr. Varughese take your personal situation as a whole to formulate a personalized treatment plan. The doctors will provide guidance and recommendation but you are in the driver’s seat. We value your input and treatment plans are decided on together. When it comes to hyperthyroidism, it is usually anti-thyroid medications, which slows the overactive thyroid, or radioactive iodine treatment, which shrinks the thyroid gland. The primary treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement therapy.
Small overactive thyroid nodules may be treated with radioactive iodine. Dr. Varughese performs a thyroid nodule ultrasound and biopsy when cancer is suspected.
If you develop symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, call Endocrine Diabetes Plus Clinic of Houston or book an appointment online to receive expert medical care.