Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland is located in the neck just below the Adam's apple. It secretes thyroid hormone which is essential for normal metabolism and the functioning of many organ systems.

An overactive thyroid gland results in a condition we call hyperthyroidism. It is usually associated with an enlarged gland or goiter. The high levels of thyroid hormone secreted, result in an increased metabolic rate with resultant symptoms of weight loss, increased heart rate and heat intolerance with excessive sweating. In addition you may experience irritability, nervousness, poor sleep, and a decreased ability to concentrate. In the elderly these symptoms may not be as marked, with an irregular heart beat being the only finding.

In contrast, hypothyroidism refers to an underfunctioning gland. Here the gland does not secret sufficent hormone to enable the body to function normally. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, decreased effort tolerance, drowsiness as well as changes in the hair and skin. In severe cases, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to heart failure, coma or even death.

Other problems related to the thyroid gland include thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. A thyroid nodule may be discovered by a careful examination of the neck, by yourself or your physician, or often is found incidentally when imaging the neck for an unrelated problem. Although the risk of thyroid cancer is generally low, all thyroid nodules should be evaluated. In some cases, this would involve an ultrasound of the gland and in others, both an ultrasound as well as a needle biopsy, may be required.

At the Center for Endocrine Health, we offer a thorough evaluation of thyroid disease. This may include, lab testing, nuclear medicine scans as well as ultrasounds of the thyroid. Our doctors are certified to perform ultrasounds of the neck and can perform a needle biopsy of any suspicious thyroid nodules. In addition, they have extensive training and experience in the treatment and surveilance of thyroid cancer.