Your thyroid and the role your thyroid hormones play in your body aren’t taught in depth at school, nor does the thyroid come up in conversation much. As a result, you likely don’t know much about this small gland and you have questions.
Board-certified endocrinologist Dr. Sean P. Nikravan values patient education. Here, we answer six of the more common questions we get about the thyroid at our practice in Newport Beach, California.
Let’s start with the most basic question we get — why should I be concerned about my thyroid? Well, your thyroid is a small gland in your neck that produces several different hormones:
T4 and T3 are the most abundant, and they work together to regulate your metabolism — how your body converts energy. This is the most important role that your thyroid hormones play, but these hormones also affect your heart rate, body temperature, digestion, fertility, and more.
So, to conclude — your thyroid is really very important.
There are several different types of thyroid disease, including:
This gland can also develop cancer, and there were an estimated 43,800 new cases in the United States in 2022.
Yes, thyroid disease is common, affecting about 20 million people in the US. Women are 5-8 times more likely to develop thyroid disease.
The signs of thyroid disease depend upon whether the condition is increasing your hormone production (hyperthyroidism) or decreasing your production (hypothyroidism). To give you a brief idea, here are the primary symptoms under each:
As you can see, the symptoms of each are quite opposite.
To answer this question, we first need to determine the nature of the problem. Treatment may be as simple as hormone replacement therapy, or we may have to remove problematic thyroid nodules or all or part of the gland.
There are times when we might recommend removing your thyroid or one side of your thyroid, such as when you have cancer. In these cases, you can live perfectly normally without a thyroid gland, but you’ll need to be on replacement hormone therapy for the rest of your life.
These are brief answers to what can be a highly complex area of your health. To learn more about your thyroid, or if you suspect that you might have a problem with the gland, please contact Dr. Sean P. Nikravan to set up a consultation.