Tips and Treatment for Thyroid Disease

Tips and Treatment for Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease affects millions of Americans, especially women—yet it’s often misunderstood and overlooked. To clear up the confusion, and underscore the importance of this small but powerful gland, Dr. Peter Hoekman, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, offers answers to some common questions:

What is the thyroid gland

A butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck, the thyroid makes hormones that regulate critical functions, such as metabolism, heart rate and body temperature.

What are parathyroid glands?

Also located in the neck, parathyroid glands are four tiny glands (about the size of a grain of rice) that control your body’s calcium levels.

What is thyroid disease

There are several different types of thyroid disease, from thyroid growths (nodules) and cancers to abnormal thyroid hormone levels. For instance, when your thyroid produces too much hormone, your body uses energy faster than it should (hyperthyroidism). When your thyroid produces too little hormone, your body uses energy slower than it should (hypothyroidism).

What causes hyperthyroidism?

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease. Other causes include an enlarged thyroid, overactive thyroid nodules, and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Irritability/nervousness Sleep problems
Rapid/irregular heartbeat Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
Increased appetite More frequent bowel movements
Muscle weakness/tremors Heat sensitivity
Infrequent menstrual periods Skin thinning
Unintentional weight loss Fine, brittle hair

What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease, and can also be caused by thyroiditis, genetic hypothyroidism, or surgical removal or radiation of the thyroid.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

Fatigue Constipation
Joint and muscle pain Puffy face
Weight gain Heavy or irregular menstral periods and fertility problems
Intolerance to cold Depression
Dry skin/hair Slow heart rate

What is hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is most often caused by over-activity of one or more of the parathyroid glands, causing calcium imbalance. The condition typically results from an enlarged gland or tumor. Symptoms include fragile bones, kidney stones and excessive urination.

Who gets thyroid disease

About 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid disease, and it is more common in women than in men. An estimated one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.

How is it diagnosed?

Thyroid disease can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms may be easily confused with other conditions, or happen slowly over time. That’s why if you think you have thyroid-related symptoms, and they don’t go away, it’s important to see your doctor. He/she will do a physical exam and order a simple blood test to determine if your thyroid hormone levels are off.

Is there treatment?

Thyroid conditions are lifelong. The good news is, with proper management, you can live a healthy and normal life. Treatment for thyroid disease varies, depending on your specific condition and overall health. For example, hypothyroidism is often successfully treated with thyroid hormone medicine. Treatment for hyperthyroidism could include drug therapy, radioactive iodine treatment or surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

If you have concerns about conditions related to the head, neck, ear, nose or throat, make an appointment with Dr. Hoekman online or call (616) 393-2190.

  • Peter K. Hoekman, MD

    Peter K. Hoekman, MD

    Dr. Peter Hoekman doesn’t just know and love the Holland community—he’s had life-long insight into the Holland medical community. That’s because he grew up here, and like him, his mother practiced medicine in the area.

    Before Lakeshore Health Partners, he cultivated his passion for healing at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he cared for people of all ages facing a variety of severe and common ENT conditions.

    Peter Hoekman, MD of Holland Hospital Ear, Nose & throat offers a wide variety of diagnostic and therapeutic care to patients of all ages, by providing the latest technology and treatments and high quality medical care.

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