The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits directly over the windpipe in the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormone from iodine in two major forms:
Thyroid hormones affect almost every tissue and help regulate many functions in the body, including metabolism, mood, temperature, and growth. The two most common thyroid diseases are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism symptoms, causes, and diagnosis
Hypothyroidism is defined as low thyroid hormone levels, which is almost always the result of an underactive thyroid gland but can also be due to an underactive pituitary gland on rare occasions. The most common cause of an underactive thyroid gland is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland. Other less common causes of an underactive thyroid gland include damage to the thyroid from medications, infections, surgery, and radiation.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, intolerance to cold temperatures, irregular menstrual cycles, mood changes, and difficulties with memory and concentration. Doctors will diagnose hypothyroidism by checking blood hormone levels, and the most common treatment is typically a thyroid hormone replacement medication.
Hyperthyroidism symptoms, causes, and treatments
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of hypothyroidism in that it means the levels of thyroid hormones in the body are too high. Graves’ disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms may include difficulty sleeping, confusion, brittle hair, nervousness, prominent eyes, sensitivity to light, irritability, an enlarged thyroid, fast heartbeat, excessive sweating, weight loss, frequent bowel movements, thinning skin, shaky hands, an irregular menstrual cycle, and weak muscles. Doctors may treat an overactive thyroid with antithyroid drugs, surgery, or radioactive iodine.
Advanced surgical treatments for thyroid disease
Our experts use the latest breakthroughs and innovations in the surgical treatment of endocrine disorders, including scarless thyroid removal using the transoral vestibular approach (TOVA). Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is currently the only center in Texas that performs this novel procedure.
A surgeon, endocrinologist, or internist will order studies to evaluate the thyroid for possible surgery. Your doctor may also request lab work and an ultrasound of the thyroid with or without a needle biopsy and a 4D CT scan. Some patients may also have a thyroid nuclear medicine scan and potentially lab work for thyroid complete blood count, bleeding and clotting, or nodules. Some patients might also have a cardiac evaluation, which is up to their physician’s discretion. Patients may not take aspirin, Advil, or anticoagulants before surgery.
Following surgery, the patient will visit their surgeon, endocrinologist, or internist to remove the sutures and drain if needed. Patients shouldn’t exercise for two to three weeks, must keep the site dry, and may return to work after about one week. Like before surgery, patients are not to take aspirin, Advil, or anticoagulants until told it is safe to do so by their doctor.