What Is The Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces chemicals known as hormones that control how the body uses and stores energy. Thyroid hormones help to regulate heart rate, body temperature, weight and the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormone, the body’s metabolism is directly affected. 

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition that occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body. 

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include: 

  • Rapid heartbeat or feeling of heart pounding
  • Sweating a lot or feeling warmer than usual
  • Trembling of the hands
  • Weight loss even when eating normally or having an increased appetite
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Anxiety, nervousness, irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in menstrual pattern in women 

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is the condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Feeling cold easily
  • Getting constipated
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Developing coarse or thin hair
  • Changes in menstrual pattern in women
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant for women

What Are Thyroid Nodules?

Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within the thyroid. The great majority of thyroid nodules are benign or non-cancerous and do not cause symptoms. Thyroid cancer accounts for only a small percentage of thyroid nodules.

Thyroid nodules are diagnosed via an ultrasound scan of the thyroid gland.

If a nodule is big enough or if there are suspicious ultrasound features, a fine needle biopsy (sampling of tissue) is performed to make sure that no cancer is present in a nodule.