Understanding Thyroid Disease

An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and many of them are unaware of it. If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid disease, learn about your condition and treatment options to improve your symptoms and restore your quality of life.

Thyroid function

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your throat. This small but mighty gland is part of your endocrine system and has a big job to do. It produces and secretes hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism. 

Thyroid hormones act on nearly every cell in your body. These vital hormones regulate how your body uses energy, controls bone growth, and regulates heart rate and digestive function, among other things.

Hypothyroidism

The hardworking thyroid gland is susceptible to disease and disorder, the most common of which is hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone). 

Autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. Over time, damage from the ongoing attack prevents the thyroid from producing enough hormones to meet the body’s needs.  

When this happens, thyroid hormone levels drop too low and cause symptoms such as:

Thyroid hormone replacement is the standard treatment for hypothyroidism. 

Thyroid cancer

Neary 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year, and most of them (41,000) are women. Unlike other types of cancer, thyroid cancer rarely spreads beyond the thyroid. For this reason, thyroid cancer has an excellent survival rate of more than 90%.

Your primary care provider will refer you to an otolaryngologist for surgical treatment if you’re diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 

At Southern ENT, our highly skilled otolaryngologists possess vast experience in head and neck surgery and treat patients with thyroid cancer with the highest level of care. 

Surgery is the treatment for nearly all cases of thyroid cancer. Treatment involves removing the tumor and all or part of the thyroid gland. Following surgery, most patients require lifelong thyroid hormone replacement.

Grave’s disease

Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that causes too much of the thyroid hormones. It’s the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. If you have Grave’s disease, you may experience:

Treatments for Grave’s disease include medication to block thyroid hormones. If surgery is recommended, your doctor will refer you to a skilled head and neck surgeon with expertise in thyroid surgery, such as our team here at Southern ENT.

Thyroid disease is common and highly treatable. Whether your case is common or complex, you’re in good hands with our expert otolaryngologists and head and neck surgeons at Southern ENT.  

To learn more, schedule a visit with one of our Southern ENT providers for comprehensive consultation. Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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