For many people, thyroid problems often go untreated. They differ from other endocrine issues in that the symptoms can imitate fatigue, sleeplessness or the common cold. People can live for years with the symptoms without ever realizing there is an issue. The thyroid is located in the front of the neck, right underneath the Adam’s apple, with two lobes on either side of the neck. It is a crucial part of the body because it releases hormones that are needed for every organ and process in the body. When the thyroid is having difficulty, everything from digestion to mood can be altered.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is releasing too many hormones into the body. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include an increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, feelings of excitement-heart palpitations, increased heart rate, abnormal perspiration.
Increase in daily bowel movements and the development of a goiter-an enlarged mass in the neck–all are indicative of a thyroid problem.
On the other end of the spectrum, if the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, the body’s functions suffer as well. Hormones are essential for starting, stopping and maintaining the processes of the body–everything from appetite, instincts, even height. If your body is not producing enough hormones, you may notice an increased sensitivity to cold, tingling or “pins and needles” in the hands and fingers. Some notice a reduced heart rate and prominent fatigue as well.
Thyroid problems are common for as many as 20 million Americans, 60% of whom do not even realize their condition. According to the American Thyroid Association, women are 5 to 8 times more likely to develop thyroid problems and leaving thyroid disease undiagnosed can lead to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and infertility. Luckily, determining thyroid problems is relatively easy. Most physicians will recommend having a blood test performed and an ultrasound scan in order to determine the presence of a thyroid disorder.
Ultrasounds use sound waves in order to interpret the inner happenings of the body. They are non-invasive and because ultrasound images can be seen in real-time, physicians use them to guide biopsy needles if needed or to check if the thyroid contains a cyst ot tumor. Ultrasounds cause no pain and there is no risk of radiation exposure either. Many people think that ultrasounds are only used during pregnancy but ultrasounds are one preferred method for many conditions like heart murmurs, prostate complications and internal bleeding.
When examining the thyroid gland, technicians will place the transducer (ultrasound wand) over the thyroid in order to observe its size and shape.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned or are worried that you may be developing thyroid complications, make your ultrasound appointment with Doctors Imaging today by either calling 504-883-3555 or by filling out the Request an Ultrasound Appointment Form in our Ultrasound Section.