The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the front of a person’s neck. The thyroid stores and produces hormones which affect the function of nearly every organ in the human body. The thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating our metabolic rate and is associated with changes in energy levels and body weight. A thyroid which is experiencing problems can affect a person’s mood, how he or she processes food, and sexual function.
During an evaluation of the thyroid the doctor will be looking for indications that the organ is not performing properly and will check for a variety of signs. The doctor will often begin with feeling the patient’s neck. Since the thyroid is located here, the doctor can feel for changes such as enlargement, lumps, and masses. The doctor will also listen to the thyroid using a stethoscope and check if there is increased blood flow, known as “bruit.” A reflex test will also be performed because hypersensitive reflexes can be a sign of hyperthyroidism and the reverse can be a sign of hypothyroidism. The doctor will also listen to the patient’s heart as an especially slow or fast heart can also point to the disease. External signs will also be looked for such as loss of hair, excessive weight gain, jaundiced or yellow-looking skin, tremors or shaky hands, excited or jerky movements, an edemas or swelling, in addition to slowed down movements and speech.
When treating thyroid disease, either the over or under production of thyroid hormones, traditionally medications and surgery are using the return the hormone levels to normal. Dietary changes can also help to realign the hormone balance. If the thyroid is overproducing hormones it can be suppressed or stopped through medications, radioactive iodide treatment, and surgery. If the thyroid is underproducing hormones the patient will need to take thyroid replacement hormones, such as levothyroxine, continually.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!