What is a Thyroid:
The thyroid is the special gland on your neck that plays a key role in regulating your body’s metabolism and other functions like growth.
It releases thyroid hormones like thyroxine that directly impact many of the body’s systems like the heart, brain, bone, and muscles.
Ultrasound of the thyroid:
An ultrasound of the thyroid will look for structural information and abnormalities of the thyroid. So, this includes the appearance, size, shape, tumors (abnormal growths of tissue) or nodules (small tumors). It also shows structures around the thyroid such as the trachea and the areas of muscle and skin around it.
The thyroid is butterfly shaped with a right lobe and left lobe appearing as “wings”, along with the isthmus being the middle part connecting the two lobes. The dark circle between the lobes is the trachea/windpipe, which leads to your lungs. These can be seen from the ultrasound image.
Common problems – hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid that produces too little thyroxine) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid that produces too much thyroxine) are also known issues relating to the thyroid. The role of the thyroid gland is to produce specific hormones that regulate the body, so too much/too little of those hormones will affect your bodily functions and possibly lead to further problems that impacts your day-to-day life.
They’re both commonly caused by certain auto immune disorders, where your immune system isn’t functioning properly and starts attacking healthy parts of your body (and in this case, the thyroid). Hypothyroidism is commonly caused by Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid), which leads to a reduction in thyroid hormone production. Grave’s disease, while still being an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid, causes an increase in thyroid hormone production, thus eventually resulting to hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism has quite a wide range of symptoms such as:
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Swelling in your neck
- Weight loss
Hypothyroidism also has quite a wide range of symptoms like:
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Weight gain
- Slowed movements and thoughts
- Muscle aches, cramps, and weakness
Ultrasounds are able to get images of the thyroid to check the size, which can be indicators of hyperthyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease if the thyroid appears large or inflamed. Thyroid function tests (TFTs) can also be used to check the level of activity of your thyroid by checking the amount of thyroid hormones present in your blood. Two types of TFTs are called Free T4 and Free T3, with both tests being a part of the comprehensive or standard blood scan package in Blessono’s services
Common problems – thyroid nodules
Thyroid nodules (small non-cancerous tumors) are quite common and almost always not cancerous. At most, thyroid nodules will probably cause discomfort or swelling in the neck that may lead to impaired function or hyper/hypothyroidism.
There isn’t a clear or specific cause of a nodule growth in the thyroid, but there are possible factors like Hashimoto’s disease or genetics that can increase your chance of having it.
These symptoms are typical indicators of there being a mass (tumor, nodule etc) on your thyroid:
- Swelling or lump in the neck
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble/pain swallowing
An ultrasound scan is commonly and effectively used to find and detect the abnormal growth and judge whether further intervention like a biopsy or blood test is needed to determine its nature (e.g if it’s cancerous or not).