What are nodules on your thyroid? Well, they are lumps that show up on your thyroid gland, which is located in your neck. If you have one, it should be just under your Adam’s apple. In many cases, these lumps will feel like you have a lump in your throat.
In some cases if you are very thin or if the nodule is rather large, then it may even be visible in the front of your neck. Thyroid nodules are really quite common and the good news is that the majority of thyroid nodules are actually non-cancerous.
It is important to recognize that the majority of thyroid nodules will not have any symptoms. Normally when they are found, they are found by a patient who notices a lump in their throat or else is able to observe the lump in the mirror. A physician may also be the one to see the nodule in your neck during a regular examination.
There are times when the nodules may cause you to feel pain, and it is possible that the nodule can make you feel like swallowing is difficult since it is positioned so that it keeps you from being able to swallow food through your esophagus. Yet this is very rare. In some instances, a nodule will be noticed when you are going through an MRI, a CT scan, or even an ultrasound for possibly some other purpose.
If you have a thyroid nodule or believe that you have one, you should have it looked at by someone who has experience in this areas. It is common for endocrinologists and surgeons in this field to handle these situations, but it is also possible that regular family and general practice doctors can also deal with thyroid nodules.
So what causes a thyroid nodule anyway? Well, the gland of your thyroid has two lobes. Your thyroid is responsible for taking the iodine that is in your food and create two different hormones that will keep up the rate that your body makes use of carbohydrates and fats, helps to control the temperature of your body, affects your heart rate, and additionally assists with the production as well as the regulation of the protein in your body.
This gland is also responsible for producing a hormone known as calcitonin, which will maintain the calcium that is in your blood. Doctors are unsure of what the reason is for why you have nodules, but they do believe that there are some factors leading to this problem.
One of these factors is not having enough iodine in your food. You may also have a defect that is genetic that releases the thyroid stimulating hormone. There is also another autoimmune disorder that may be a factor, and it is called Hashimoto’s disease. Finally, if your head and neck were exposed to radiation treatments in your childhood, you may be at risk.
There are many different types of nodules that you can have on your thyroid. A follicular adenoma and colloid nodule are both benign. The majority of thyroid nodules are benign extra growths of the tissue of the thyroid. You may have just one of these nodules, or you may have many of them. You may also have a thyroid cyst.
These are filled with fluid and they can be up to an inch or bigger in diameter. The majority are filled with fluids, but they can also have some parts that are solid, and if this is so, they are referred to as complex cysts. The fluid filled cysts are normally benign, but the cysts that are complex may at times be malignant. An inflammatory nodule may develop due to inflammation that is chronic of your thyroid.
There is a rare type of this and it will cause very serious pain in your thyroid gland. Another possibility is to have thyroid cancer. If you have thyroid cancer, the chances that it is malignant are small, but you are at a higher risk if you have a history in your family of endocrine cancers or of thyroid cancer itself. You are also at an increased risk if you are under thirty years old or over sixty years of age.
Additionally, if you are a man, you are at an increased risk. The nodules that are malignant are often hard and large and may cause you pain or may be uncomfortable. Another option is called a goiter. This is when you have a large portion in your thyroid gland.
This occurs when you have a good number of nodules, and then they are referred to as multinodular goiter. This can lead to you having a feeling like it is tight in your throat and you may have trouble swallowing or even breathing. You also may have a hyperfunctioning thyroid nodule.
There are a number of factors that put you at an increased risk of having thyroid nodules. For example, did you know that women are more likely to have this than are men? Did you know that if you have a family history, especially a brother, sister, or parent who has had it, that you are more likely to have this too?
Did you know that your chances are greater with age? Did you know that some people used to be treated for certain conditions with radiation treatment, and this puts you at risk? Finally, if you have had a particular thyroid condition in the past, you are at an increased risk.
As stated earlier, if you have a thyroid nodule or believe that you do, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will want to figure out if your thyroid nodule or nodules are related to a thyroid dysfunction or if the nodule is benign or malignant. There are some things that your doctor will be able to determine just by looking and feeling, and then he or she may also wish to run a few tests.
When swallowing, if you have a thyroid nodule, it should move up and down when you swallow. It is also likely to be found directly under and to the left of the right of your Adam’s apple. One test that your doctor may want to run would be tests for thyroid functions.
While this test will tell if your thyroid is producing hormones at the appropriate level, it will not show you whether or not the nodules are malignant or benign. Another test that will determine if the nodules are benign or malignant is called the fine-needle aspiration biopsy. This is a test that will involve your doctor inserting a very small needle into the nodule in your neck to remove some cell samples. This will usually take about twenty minutes.
Then a laboratory will need to evaluate your samples. Another test is called ultrasonography. This is an imaging technique that utilizes sound waves in order to create images of your neck. It will inform your doctor of the size and shape of your nodules and will also be able to tell your doctor if the nodules are solid or if they are cysts.
Another option is to have a thyroid scan which will help the doctor to determine the characteristics of the nodules. This test will involve some iodine being injected into your vein on the inside portion of your elbow. Then a special camera will be able to show your doctor an image of your thyroid. This type of scan will not definitively show if your nodules are cancerous or not.
There are several treatment options for you if you have a thyroid nodule, so we will discuss those options now. First, if your thyroid nodule is found to be benign, then your doctor may want you to simply relax but continue to have regular physical exams and tests for your thyroid function on a regular basis.
You will also need to continue to have more biopsies if it continues to get bigger. If it does not change over time, then you may not need any specific treatment to occur. A second option for treatment of a benign thyroid nodule is called hormone suppression therapy for the thyroid. This therapy will include treating it with a pill of a man-made form of thyroxine.
The goal with this is that giving it more thyroid hormone will encourage it to produce less of the TSH. Yet with this treatment, there is still not evidence that shows that this treatment will truly shrink the nodule or even that doing this is needed.
Another treatment option is called using radioactive iodine. In this case, the doctor will use this to treat multinodular goiters or the adenomas that are hyper functioning. This can be taken in either a liquid or a pill form. The goal is to shrink the nodules and having the symptoms of the hyperthyroidism to decrease.
In many cases, the treatment for nodules that are malignant is to remove them surgically. This will also involve removing the major parts of the thyroid tissue. Sometimes even a rather large benign nodule will need to be removed through surgery. This may also be a good option for you if you have multinodular goiters.
There are risks, however, to getting thyroid surgery. Those risks do involve causing damage to the nerve that has control over your vocal cords. It also may damage your parathyroid glands. Keep in mind that after the surgery you will need to continue with treatment all of your life with levothyroxine in order to keep your body supplied with enough of the thyroid hormone.