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Thyroid Nodules: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Thyroid nodules are lumps that appear on the thyroid gland in the neck. This lump can feel hard and solid, or it can be soft and fluid. The appearance of thyroid nodules can be caused by a number of things, ranging from iodine deficiency to tumors or thyroid cancer.

Thyroid nodules are a type of thyroid disease that often occurs in both men and women. In many cases, this condition is not dangerous and is not caused by a serious illness. But when a lump starts to grow or thyroid nodules interfere with thyroid hormone production, a number of complaints can arise.

Types of Thyroid Nodules

There are several types of thyroid nodules, including:

1. Colloidal nodules




This thyroid nodule is non-cancerous. Nodules or lumps can enlarge, but do not spread out of the thyroid gland.

2. Thyroid cyst

This thyroid nodule contains liquid or blood. Thyroid cysts can form from the growth of thyroid tumor tissue, for example in thyroid adenoma. Thyroid cysts are usually benign, but in some cases, they can be composed of malignant tissue (cancer).

3. Hyperfunctional thyroid nodules

These nodules produce excessive thyroid hormone which causes hyperthyroidism. As a result, various health problems and diseases will emerge, such as heart rhythm (arrhythmia), high blood pressure, and even a heart attack.

4. Thyroid cancer

These thyroid nodules are malignant, but are very rare. Thyroid cancer has several types, depending on the origin of the cell or the thyroid tissue. In the early stages, thyroid cancer often shows no typical symptoms.

5. Inflammatory nodules

This thyroid nodule arises from chronic inflammation and causes swelling of the thyroid gland. Inflammatory thyroid nodule types can be caused by Hashimoto's disease.

6. Multinodular goiter

Mumps or enlargement of the thyroid gland with many nodules are generally benign, and often occur when the body experiences iodine deficiency in the long term or there is certain thyroid disease.

Read Also : Thyroid Hormones: Functions, Excess Effects and Deficiency

Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules rarely cause symptoms, especially when the lump is still small. Generally this lump is only detected when a person is undergoing a general health examination.

Complaints usually arise only when the lump is getting bigger. Symptoms include:

  • Difficult to swallow
  • Breathless
  • The voice becomes hoarse
  • Pain and swelling in the neck

Other complaints can also arise when thyroid nodules produce thyroxine hormones and cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, feeling hot and sweating, shortness of breath, palpitations, and vision problems.

A person suffering from thyroid nodules is also susceptible to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid hormone levels in the body are low.

Causes of Thyroid Nodules

The cause of this lump in the thyroid gland is unknown. But there are several factors that are thought to increase the risk of developing thyroid nodules, including:

  • Iodine deficiency.
  • Hereditary factors, namely if someone has a parent or family member who suffers from nodules or thyroid cancer.
  • People who are less than 30 years old or over 60 are at risk of developing this disease.
  • Women are more at risk of developing thyroid nodules than men.
  • Radiation exposure to the head and neck.

Read Also : Keep Daily Iodine Intake for Your Health

Examination of Thyroid Nodules

To detect thyroid nodules, a series of medical examinations are required by the doctor, which include physical examinations and special examinations, such as blood tests (evaluation of thyroid gland function) by measuring thyroid hormone levels, ultrasound, nuclear imaging (scintigraphy), and fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB )

After the diagnosis and the cause of thyroid nodules are known, the doctor can determine the appropriate treatment steps. Treatment of thyroid nodules is usually gradual, depending on growth, size, thyroid function, and whether the lump is benign or cancerous.

Treatment of Thyroid Nodules

Treatment of thyroid nodules can be done in several ways, namely:

  • Periodic monitoring (watchful waiting)

If the nodules are small and non-cancerous or benign, doctors usually only advise patients to perform ultrasound and a series of examinations of thyroid gland function on a regular basis, to monitor the growth of thyroid nodules.

  • Giving medicines

If the lump grows bigger, the doctor may give levothyroxine medication to help prevent the development of nodules. Other treatment options are radioactive iodine treatment and administration of antithyroid drugs, such as methimazole, if the thyroid nodule causes an increase in thyroid hormone levels.

  • Thyroid surgery

Surgery is usually needed if the lump is enlarged and causes the person to have difficulty swallowing or difficulty breathing. Surgery is also needed for thyroid nodules that are at risk of becoming thyroid cancer.

If the thyroid lump is cancerous, the treatment is thyroidectomy, to remove malignant thyroid tissue. This method of treatment is usually accompanied by levothyroxine drug therapy.

Treatment at home

The following lifestyle and home remedies can help you overcome this condition:

  • You must stop smoking
  • Don't consume too much soy-based foods or drinks
  • do a diet that contains enough iodine or you can try taking iodine supplements.
  • Choose food products or everyday equipment that are fluoride-free.
  • Get to know the symptoms so that you can be diagnosed early

If there are questions about the right treatment for your condition, consult your doctor for the best solution to your problem.

Prevention

What can I do to prevent this condition?

The point, maintaining a diet and living a healthy life are the main keys to preventing this condition from happening. In addition to eating patterns and eating arrangements that are maintained, it is also necessary for the action of reducing weight, or the second focus to maintain the function of this gland so that it can produce hormones that are in accordance with their needs.

Studies have found an association between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Graves' disease.

Vitamin D deficiency is also more common in patients with thyroid disease compared to people who are healthy and do not suffer from autoimmune diseases.

A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in 2014 reported that people who experience hypothyroidism should consume more protein. High protein intake can actually accelerate metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating the amount of protein eaten, also pay attention to other nutrients

Although most cases of thyroid nodules are not dangerous, this condition needs to be examined by a doctor so that it can be seen whether the lump is benign or cancerous. Immediately consult a doctor if you find a lump in the neck, especially if other symptoms appear, such as hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.





References

References

1. WebMD (2019). What Are Thyroid Nodules?

2. American Thyroid Association. Thyroid Nodules. 

3. Medicinenet (2016). Thyroid Cancer.

4. Emedicinehealth (2016). Thyroid Problems.


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