Endocrinology addresses thyroid health challenges

Dr. Divya Reddy Pati addresses thyroid health issues, endocrinology

by Divya Reddy Pati M.D.

You have probably heard the term thyroid, but are you aware of its significance and that it can involve health challenges? Thyroid issues are relatively commonplace and most cases are easily treated. An endocrinologist can best address thyroid problems and determine the best means of treatment.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck. This vital gland produces the thyroid hormone that helps regulate the body’s metabolism.  

 Prevalence

Thyroid-related health challenges, such as thyroid nodules, are very common. Nodules can create too much thyroid hormone or no thyroid hormone at all. Most are benign, although a very small percentage can be cancerous.

What is a nodule?

A thyroid nodule is a growth or lump on the thyroid gland, and is usually discovered by a patient, in a routine physical exam or incidentally by imaging. There are usually no symptoms associated with a nodule, although a nodule that is large may sometimes cause a change in voice or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

What are the risks?

The risk of developing thyroid nodules increases with age. While most thyroid nodules are benign (non cancerous,) the prevalence of cancer is higher in children and adults younger than age 30 or over age 60. There is an increased cancer risk for individuals who have a family history of thyroid cancer, and for patients who have received radiation therapy of the head and neck.

Endocrinology

Endocrinology is the medical study and treatment of hormones and endocrine glands, like the thyroid gland. An endocrinologist is a physician who specializes in this area, and will order lab tests to determine if the nodule is hot (overproducing) or cold (not producing). An ultrasound is needed to further determine the type of nodule, and give the endocrinologist information needed to determine the most effective treatment plan.

Based on the type of nodule, a specific biopsy, guided by ultrasound, will be ordered to best identify the nodule.

Treatment

Treatment of thyroid nodules depends on the type of nodule.

If a biopsy shows a benign nodule, monitoring might be recommended every 6 to 12 months with a physical exam and/or a thyroid ultrasound.

Surgery is only recommended for nodules that are cancerous or suspected of being cancer. In the rare situation that nodules are large enough to cause problems with swallowing or breathing surgery might also be recommended.

Regular provider visits

Thyroid nodules should always be addressed. While most are not harmful, there is a small risk of cancer.  Your health care provider can make the appropriate referral to an endocrinologist, one of the many reasons it is important to visit your primary care provider and receive periodic physicals.

divya pati endocrinologistDr. Divya Pati is an endocrinologist practicing with TMCOne. She diagnoses and treats diabetes, thyroid problems, calcium disorders, osteoporosis, pituitary, adrenal and other hormonal disorders.

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