What Are the Thyroid Glands?
The thyroid and parathyroid are separate glands located in the neck. Each serves an important function: the thyroid generates a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories), while the parathyroid generates a hormone that controls the level of calcium in the blood.
Hyperthyroidism is the result of too much thyroid hormone, which increases the rate of metabolism. This can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, tremors, weight loss and increased bowel movements.
When too little thyroid hormone is produced, the metabolic rate slows down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, fatigue, sore muscles, dry skin, puffy face, swollen legs, weight gain, constipation and sensitivity to cold.
What is Hyperparathyroidism?
Hyperparathyroidism occurs when too much parathyroid hormone is produced. This creates an imbalance, causing elevated calcium levels and reduced phosphorous levels.
Symptoms include osteoporosis, kidney stones, bone and joint pain, weakness, lethargy, loss of concentration, depression, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea and vomiting. The cause may be linked to a benign tumor or enlarged parathyroid gland. Surgery is the preferred treatment for hyperparathyroidism.
What is Hypoparathyroidism?
When too little parathyroid hormone is produced, calcium levels in the blood drop while phosphorous levels become elevated. This condition is known as hypoparathyroidism and causes weakness, anxiety, fatigue, muscle aches and cramps, headaches, muscle spasms, cataracts, depression, mood swings, memory loss and tingling sensations in the fingers, toes and lips.
Injury to the parathyroid glands, endocrine disorders and genetic conditions are the most common causes of hypoparathyroidism. Calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplements are given to restore the proper balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body.
Thyroid nodules are lumps in the thyroid gland that may be solid or filled with fluid. They may enlarge and cause breathing and swallowing difficulties or affect normal thyroid hormone levels.
What Causes Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid nodules may develop due to an iodine deficiency, excess tissue growth, thyroid cysts, goiter (enlarged thyroid), Hashimoto’s disease (a thyroid disorder resulting in inflammation and reduced hormone production) and cancer. Hereditary factors may also increase the likelihood of a thyroid nodule.
Thyroid Nodule Symptoms
Nodules sometimes produce additional thyroid hormone which can cause hyperthyroidism.
How are thyroid nodules treated?
Treatment depends on the size of the thyroid nodule and whether or not it’s cancerous. Treatment options include surgery, thyroid hormone suppression therapy, radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medication.