Thyroid Disease | Thyroid Disorders
At MaineHealth, our doctors and thyroid specialists treat all types of thyroid problems. Early thyroid treatment can lower the risk of other more serious conditions.
What is thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease affects the thyroid gland, which is located at the front base of the neck. The thyroid gland regulates your body’s functions. Untreated thyroid problems can cause serious problems in other parts of the body. There are many types of thyroid disease and thyroid disorders. They include:
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): Thyroid hormone levels are below normal. Symptoms may include depression, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, weight gain, slow heart rate, sensitivity to cold, and higher cholesterol levels. Hypothyroidism is treated with a thyroid hormone replacement medication.
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid): Thyroid hormone levels are too high. Symptoms: Weight loss, feeling restless or anxious, sweating, fast heartbeat, sensitivity to heat. Treatment may include radioactive iodine, medication, surgery.
- Grave's eye disease: an eye condition in many patients with hyperthyroidism. Patients have swollen eyelids, bulging eyes, blurred vision. Treatment may include radioactive iodine, medication, and sometimes surgery.
- Thyroid nodules: Small growths on the thyroid that most often are benign (not cancer). Exposure to radiation and older age increase the chance that a thyroid nodule may be cancer. Often patients have no symptoms. Doctors may find thyroid nodules during a neck exam. Patients may require no treatment. Treatment for large or cancerous nodules may include medication and surgery.
- Thyroiditis/Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid gland. Symptoms: Mild pressure in the area (neck) of the thyroid gland, tenderness, feeling tired. Treatment may include medication, radioactive iodine.
- Thyroid cancer: Cancer forms on the thyroid gland. Symptoms: People may see or feel a lump at the front base of their neck. Treatment can include surgery, hormone replacement, radioactive iodine, radiation and chemotherapy.
Diagnosing thyroid disease and thyroid cancer
Thyroid disease is diagnosed with blood tests that check the function of the thyroid. Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer are diagnosed with ultrasound and/or a fine needle biopsy that usually can be done in the doctor's office.