Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Nodules

The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that regulates your body’s metabolism. It is the part of your body’s endocrine system that releases hormones to control mood, growth and development. Diseases of the thyroid are very common, especially among women, and fall into three major categories:

  • Hyperthyroidism – also called overactive thyroid. The thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones. This can increase your metabolism, which adversely affects many of your organs, such as your heart, bones, muscles and reproductive system. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
  • Hypothyroidism – also called underactive thyroid. The thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones, which slows down your metabolism, leading to weight gain, fatigue and fluid retention. Hashimoto’s disease is a common autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid nodules – solid or fluid-filled lumps on your thyroid. They are very common, and while most are benign, they can be cancerous.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you are at a higher risk for developing thyroid disease.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Symptoms of thyroid disease depend on whether you have too much or too little thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Heart palpations or a racing heart
  • Irregular menstruation (cycle stops)
  • Large lump in the neck
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sensitivity to warmth/heat
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vision disturbance
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Dry, coarse hair
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent, heavy menstruation
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of focus
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Voice changes
  • Weight gain

Thyroid disease can typically be managed with medications, surgery or radioactive iodine. You and your physician will discuss the best treatment options for you and your lifestyle. The experts at Penn State Health have the experience to help you through those complicated decisions if you are planning for a family or are pregnant.

If you have thyroid cancer, our endocrinologists work with the team at Penn State Cancer Institute to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for you.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Multidisciplinary Approach to Thyroid Disease

If you are diagnosed with thyroid disease, you may need medical or surgical treatment from other Penn State Health specialists. Our team of endocrinologists partners with other specialists across Penn State Health, such as surgery, radiology and nuclear medicine, to create the best treatment plan for you and your family.

Expert Care for Thyroid Disease

The diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases require in-depth knowledge and expertise of the endocrine system. Our endocrinologists are some of the leading providers of thyroid care in central Pennsylvania. If you want an accurate diagnosis or an expert second opinion, we have the experience to care for you.

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