The Basics of Thyroid Nodule

The thyroid is an important gland that needs to be kept healthy as much as possible. It works to keep the metabolism working properly. It secretes hormones that can affect the body’s temperature, the heart rate, and many other bodily processes. However, there are cases when thyroid issues arise. These issues can then disrupt the work that a healthy thyroid gland should be doing. One of these issues could be thyroid nodule.

What is Thyroid Nodule?

To simply put it, thyroid nodules are lumps that grow or develop in the thyroid gland. This lump can be characterized to be fluid-filled or plain solid lump. You can also develop just one nodule or you can also have clusters.

Furthermore, thyroid nodules can be classified as warm, hot, or cold. These classifications are dependent on whether hormones are produced by these nodules or not.

These thyroid nodules are comparatively common, but very rarely tested to be cancerous. Based on the statistics released by Hormone Health Network[1] about 90% of the recorded thyroid nodules were non-cancerous or benign. Most cases of thyroid nodules are not serious and may be asymptomatic. There are even thyroid nodule cases when the patient does not even know they have nodules. Some only know that they have it when the nodule grows big enough for it to press on the patient’s windpipe.

Causes of Thyroid Nodule Development

A good number of thyroid nodule cases are triggered by normal thyroid tissue overgrowth. The main cause of this overgrowth is often unidentified.[2] However, thyroid nodules are, in rare situations, associated with thyroid cancer, thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease, as well as iodine deficiency.

There are also risk factors that can trigger the development of thyroid nodules. Some of these risk factors include:

It is also important to note that thyroid nodules are commonly seen in women[3], but when these nodules develop in men, they are almost certainly cancerous.

Symptoms of Thyroid Nodule

Many cases of thyroid nodules are asymptomatic or devoid of symptoms[4]. However, when the thyroid nodule grows big enough to be noticed, the symptoms that one may notice include the following:

If your thyroid nodule is classified as cold or those producing excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, hyperthyroidism symptoms may be observed.

However, if your thyroid nodules develop due to Hashimoto’s disease, you will be experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms.

Possible Treatments for Thyroid Nodule

Treatment for thyroid nodules will be dependent on the type of nodule the patient has as well as the size. If the nodule is tested to be benign and does not disrupt your appearance or daily activities, you may be advised to not undergo any treatment. However, you will be instructed to have regular check-ups and visits so the nodule/s can be monitored properly. Occasionally, your doctor may even perform FNABs or Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsies[5] to rule out any possibility of it turning cancerous.

On the other hand, if you have a hot thyroid nodule, you might be advised to undergo surgery or radioactive iodine to remove the nodule. If there are symptoms, your doctor will also provide medications and resolutions to manage the symptoms.

If your nodule is fluid-filled, you may also be undergoing fine needle aspiration to drain excess fluid in the nodule.

Although there is not an exact science in preventing the development of thyroid nodules, you can still have it diagnosed early, if you are aware of the possible symptoms and risk factors as well as if you have regular visits to your doctor.

 

[1] Thyroid Nodules. https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/thyroid/thyroid-nodules

[2] Thyroid Nodule. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/13121-thyroid-nodule

[3] Thyroid Nodules: Hyperthyroidism and Thyroid Cancer. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/thyroid-nodules

[4] Thyroid nodules. https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-nodules/

[5] Thyroid nodule. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/127491-overview

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