The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that control certain functions, including your metabolism and heart rate. There are a number of diseases that can affect this gland, ranging from an over- or under-production of thyroid hormones to cancer.
Types of Thyroid Disease
The primary symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:
Also known as an underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism means that your body is not producing an adequate amount of thyroid hormones. It is most common among women in middle age and, if left untreated, can cause obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Also known as overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism causes your body to produce too much of the hormone thyroxine, which can accelerate your metabolism and cause weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, irritability and more.
Thyroiditis essentially means inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can cause abnormally high or low levels of thyroid hormones. There are several different forms of thyroiditis, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the most common), post-partum thyroiditis, de Quervain’s thyroiditis and more.
A goiter is the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. It causes a visible swelling in the neck, a tight feeling in the throat, coughing, hoarseness and difficulty swallowing. Goiters commonly occur alongside other conditions, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid cancer is very rare and highly curable. It is not known what causes this particular form of cancer, but people with a strong history of radiation exposure, especially during childhood, are at a heightened risk. Signs include a lump in the neck, trouble swallowing, and a hoarse voice, among other symptoms.
How is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed?
Thyroid disease can be diagnosed during a visit to your ENT. During that appointment, your doctor will begin by feeling your neck to look for lumps, enlarged areas and irregularities relating to your thyroid. From there, blood tests may be ordered to assess the function of the gland and the amount of certain hormones present in your blood. Depending on these findings, additional imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, may be ordered to obtain a definitive diagnosis. If a suspicious thyroid lump or nodule is found, a biopsy may be performed. This involves inserting a thin needle directly into the lump and extracting cells to evaluate for cancer.