The thyroid is part of the body’s endocrine system, which is responsible for producing and releasing many of the hormones in the body. The thyroid produces two hormones that play a key role in regulating the metabolism, which is the body’s system for converting food into energy. When the thyroid does not function properly, various problems can develop. The physicians at Ear, Nose & Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center in Stafford and Fredericksburg, VA can diagnose thyroid conditions and develop a course of treatment to improve functioning.
The function of the Thyroid
The thyroid is a gland involved in the regulation of metabolism. One of its primary functions is to convert iodine from the diet into two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The cells in the thyroid are the only ones in the body with the ability to absorb iodine. Once absorbed, they convert the iodine by combining it with tyrosine, an amino acid. The hormones are then released into the bloodstream. As they travel throughout the body, T3 and T4 increase cellular activity and regulate cellular metabolism.
Thyroid problems can occur when there is either too little or too much of the T3 or T4 hormones. Some thyroid conditions include:
Hyperthyroidism — occurs when there is an overproduction of thyroxine (T4). Too much of the T4 hormone can speed up the body’s metabolism and cause unexplained weight loss. It can also lead to a rapid heartbeat. Other symptoms include shaky hands, sweatiness, frequent bowel movements, and tiredness.
Hypothyroidism — occurs when there is an underproduction of thyroid hormones. A deficiency in these hormones can affect metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. Some symptoms associated with this condition include unexplained weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, feeling cold, and a slow heart rate.
Thyroid nodules & goiters — Nodules are small growths on the thyroid, while a goiter is a swollen or enlarged thyroid. Both conditions can make swallowing and breathing more difficult and are sometimes an indication of hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
Thyroid Cancer — Thyroid cancer is often first detected by the presence of nodules or a goiter. Other possible symptoms of thyroid cancer include swollen lymph nodes, neck pain, coughing, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss.
Treatment of Thyroid Conditions
See a physician if you are experiencing symptoms associated with any type of thyroid condition. The highly skilled doctors at our office in Stafford and Fredericksburg treat many thyroid conditions and can recommend a specific treatment approach for you. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with antithyroid medicine, while thyroid hormone pills are used to treat hypothyroidism. Treatment of thyroid nodules might involve surgical removal of them. Several methods can be used to treat thyroid cancer, including surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
We diagnose and treat thyroid conditions. If you are experiencing unusual symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced doctors for an evaluation of your thyroid by calling Ear, Nose & Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center of Fredericksburg at (540) 371-1226. We also have a location in Stafford, VA.