Skip to content

    Women's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Understanding Thyroid Problems -- Diagnosis and Treatment

    How Do I Know If I Have a Thyroid Problem?

    Your doctor can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. Doctors measure hormones secreted by the thyroid itself, as well as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland that triggers hormone production in the thyroid.

    When you are hypothyroid, higher quantities of TSH are circulating in your blood as your body attempts to increase production of thyroid hormones. The reverse is true with hyperthyroidism, in which TSH levels are below normal and circulating thyroid-hormone levels are high.

    Recommended Related to Women

    30 Days to a Happier Life

    By Charlotte LatvalaThey say change is good but it sure doesn't feel that way when your world seems to be spinning out of control. Follow these guiding truths from Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of the new book The First 30 Days, and that's exactly how long it'll take you to be able to face life's surprises with confidence, optimism, and hope. I'll admit it: I hate change. It's only spring and I already feel uneasy about my youngest child, my baby girl, starting kindergarten in the fall. I'm not...

    Read the 30 Days to a Happier Life article > >

    To identify the cause of hyperthyroidism, doctors often use radioactive iodide uptake tests, which track the amount of iodide absorbed by the thyroid gland. Iodide, obtained from the foods we eat, is a key ingredient in the manufacture of thyroid hormone, so the amount of iodide the thyroid absorbs is a reliable indicator of how much hormone the gland is producing. For this test, the doctor places an instrument over your neck to measure how much background radioactivity there is. Then, you must swallow a small amount of radioactive iodide in liquid or capsule form. After a predetermined time (usually 4-6 hours and at 24 hours), the doctor again places an instrument over your neck to measure how much of the radioactive iodide has gathered in your thyroid.

    If the test suggests that the gland is collecting excessive amounts of iodide, the doctor may then conduct a radioactive iodide uptake scan. In this test, the doctor uses a special film to create a picture that shows the exact location of the radioactive iodide in your thyroid gland. The scan will reveal, for example, if the iodide is collecting in nodules, indicating that the nodules are responsible for the excess hormone production. If the scan shows that the iodide is spread equally throughout the tissue, the whole thyroid is involved in the excess production.

    Nodules that appear suddenly are typically fluid-filled cysts and are often benign. They can be evaluated with a noninvasive ultrasound exam. If blood tests indicate that the nodules are producing excess thyroid hormone, your doctor may treat you for hyperthyroidism.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    period
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz