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Thyroid problems occur when the thyroid does not function as it should, and often caused by an underlying health condition.  

The thyroid is a small gland that sits in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. The thyroid works with other glands to produce these hormones through a process called secretion. Thyroid problems happen when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone or when it produces too much. This can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, fatigue and depression. Read on to find out more about the factors that contribute to thyroid problems; the most common thyroid problems that can occur; and what the treatment options are…

What are the most common thyroid problems?

One of the most common problems related to the thyroid, hyperthyroidism, occurs when the thyroid produces too much of its hormone. This issue is most often caused by a condition known as Graves’ disease, but can also be caused by thyroid nodules. Grace’s disease is a type of autoimmune disorder, which is heredity. Hyperthyroidism can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including anxiety, weight loss, brittle skin and nails, and sleep problems.

Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, occurs as a result of an underactive thyroid. This issue is often caused by a disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, slowly affecting its ability to produce hormones as it should. Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, depression, weight gain and a slowed heart rate.

Other thyroid problems include goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland often caused by an iodine deficiency; thyroid nodules, which may be caused by iodine deficiency or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; and thyroid cancer, which occurs when a DNA change causes the thyroid cells to grow uncontrollably and form a lump.

Can thyroid dysfunction be prevented?

It is not usually possible to prevent thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In the case of hyperthyroidism, for example, the most common cause is Grave’s disease, which cannot be prevented.

Although thyroid dysfunction cannot usually be prevented, there are, fortunately, ways in which these issues can be managed. Early diagnosis and treatment are beneficial and can help to restore optimal health.

Treatment options for thyroid problems include medication and surgery. If surgery is recommended, you will most likely undergo a procedure known as thyroidectomy. This surgery involves the removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. If your entire thyroid is removed, you will need daily treatment with a thyroid hormone in order to replace your thyroid’s natural function.

How can we help?

There are a number of potential reasons for thyroid disorders, including underlying health conditions. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help manage these problems if they develop. It’s important that you speak with your surgeon about what the appropriate course of action would be in your case and how it may differ from someone else’s situation. Every patient is different, and your treatment plan will be customised to suit your particular needs.

Associate Professor Navin Niles is an endocrine and head and neck surgeon, and offers thyroidectomy for patients with thyroid cancer, obstructive symptoms, overactive thyroid and cosmetic disfigurement.

If you have been referred for thyroidectomy, we encourage you to arrange a consultation with Associate Professor Navin Niles so that he can explain the treatment to you and let you know what to expect from the process. He will happily address any questions or concerns that you have regarding the procedure, as well as the recovery period.

If you would like to find out more about thyroidectomy surgery, please have a look here.  

To arrange a consultation with Associate Professor Niles, please contact us here or give us a call on (02) 9810 9839.

To find out more about the services that Associate Professor Navin Niles provides, please have a look here.