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Women's Health

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Understanding Thyroid Problems -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Know If I Have a Thyroid Problem? continued...

In any case, you should receive periodic checkups if you have a nodule on your thyroid gland. Further tests will show if the nodule has the potential to become cancerous.

Depending on the size of the nodule, how it looks on ultrasound and other risk factors your doctor may check for thyroid cancer by performing an aspiration, or biopsy, in which a tissue sample of the nodule is taken and examined. One uncommon type of thyroid cancer can be diagnosed through a blood test that measures levels of a hormone involved in bone formation called calcitonin.

What Are the Treatments for Thyroid Problems?

For thyroid disorders stemming from the over- or under-production of thyroid hormones, both conventional and alternative treatments offer varied methods to try to restore hormone levels to their proper balance. Conventional treatments rely mainly on drugs and surgery. Alternative treatments attempt to relieve some of the discomfort associated with thyroid problems, or to improve the function of the thyroid gland through approaches ranging from diet supplements and herbal remedies to lifestyle changes and special exercises.

You should always receive a medical evaluation from your doctor for any thyroid disorder; most of these conditions require treatment beyond the scope of home care alone.

Treating hyperthyroidism requires suppressing the manufacture of thyroid hormone, while hypothyroidism demands hormone replacement. Conventional medicine offers extremely effective techniques for lowering, eliminating, or supplementing hormone production. Before deciding which treatment is best for you, your doctor will make an evaluation based on your particular thyroid condition, as well as your age, general health, and medical history.

Treatments for Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid hormone production can be suppressed or halted completely in these ways:

  • Radioactive iodide treatment
  • Anti-thyroid medication
  • Surgery

If your doctor decides that radioactive treatment is best, you will be asked to swallow a tablet or liquid containing radioactive iodide in amounts large enough to damage the cells of your thyroid gland and limit or destroy their ability to produce hormones. Occasionally, more than one treatment is needed to restore normal hormone production, and many patients actually develop hypothyroidism as a result of this procedure. 

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