The odds are that you haven’t given much thought to your thyroid, but this gland’s influence over your health is far-reaching. It’s often only when a problem develops that affects how it functions that its role is truly appreciated.
At Houston Sinus Surgery in Houston, TX, Cecil Yeung, MD and Marcus Hershey, MD understand the implications of a malfunctioning thyroid and when a thyroid issue requires treatment. In this blog, we explore one of the more common issues — thyroid nodules.
Thyroid nodules 101
One of the first things to understand about thyroid nodules is that they’re incredibly common. In fact, about 50% of all people develop a nodule by age 60. While this may sound alarming, the truth is that most nodules are perfectly harmless and don’t produce any symptoms. In fact, more than 90% of thyroid nodules are benign.
Depending on the type, size, location, and number of thyroid nodules, however, there are times when this issue can cause symptoms. To better understand the symptoms, it’s important to understand that the hormones your thyroid produces oversee your metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature.
When you develop thyroid nodules, we typically classify them as cold, warm, or hot, which refers to whether or not the nodules produce hormones. For example, cold nodules don’t produce hormones, while hot nodules overproduce hormones.
With hot nodules, you may become symptomatic and experience:
- Rapid heart rate
- Weight changes
- Trouble sleeping
Furthermore, you might experience a tightness in your throat, which could lead to difficulty swallowing or hoarseness.
5 causes of thyroid nodules
There are several conditions that can lead to thyroid nodules, including:
Overgrowth of tissue
The most common cause of thyroid nodules is an overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue. Also referred to as thyroid adenoma, we’re not sure what causes this excessive tissue growth.
This is a condition in which your thyroid is inflamed, which can lead to nodules.
The thyroid gland is included in the hormonal changes women undergo during pregnancy, and this can leave them susceptible to developing thyroid nodules.
While thyroid nodules themselves are rarely cancerous, they can stem from thyroid cancer. If you have a small, hard nodule, it’s important to have us check it out.
If your diet lacks iodine, it can lead to the development of thyroid nodules. This cause is extremely rare as Americans usually get plenty of iodine through salt and other foods.
Treating thyroid nodules
We want to underscore again that most thyroid nodules don’t require treatment as they are largely benign and don’t produce any symptoms. If, however, you are symptomatic and we identify nodules as the culprit, we can treat the problem by rebalancing your hormones or surgically removing the nodule.
If you’d like to learn more about thyroid nodules, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Sinus Surgery today.