Thyroid Nodules: When You Should Start To Worry

Posted December 1, 2020

One of the most common practices that every person, man or woman, should employ in their preventitive healthcare regimen is the practice of performing a self-check. For women, this may immediately make you think of your monthly breast exam looking for lumps. For men, this may remind you of that awkward conversation with your doctor early in your teens when he explained how to examine your testicles for abnormalities. However, it may not occur to you that you may need to be checking other parts of your body—including your neck.

When it comes to thyroid issues, lumps forming on the front or sides of your neck can be an indicator of a developing issue. While unaesthetically pleasing, the majority of neck lumps are typically benign while also providing insight into the type of care that you need. Of course, when you discover a neck lump, absolutely go see your doctor to have them examine the lumps for a more concrete diagnosis.

What Are Thyroid Nodules?

So if you have found lumps—where would they be? The lumps you feel above the breastbone on your neck are often unseen and can only be felt. What would they feel like? Think of how swelling typically feels in your body, but then increase the tension and density of it. If you find them through a physical examination, your doctor can confirm their existence through common procedures like an ultrasound or a CT scan.

It is not uncommon for someone to be be unaware that thyroid nodules are even something that they have. These are often discovered during different exams being performed by medical professions.

We should note that these lumps do sometimes get large enough to the point where they are visibly noticeable. They are also more common with people aged sixty or older.

So to go back to the original question: what are they? These lumps, the majority of the time, are called thyroid nodules. Ready for some good news?

They are normally nothing to worry about. But I bet that you are already wondering if they can potentially cause any issues. 1

Issues Linked To Thyroid Nodules

Sometimes, but very rarely, thyroid nodules can secrete extra hormones known as thyroxine that can lead to irregular heartbeats, weight loss, and other issues. However, thyroid nodules normally cause no physical symptoms.

Unfortunately, these nodules are not always benign. Some may be cancerous — and the data seems to relate this especially to the size of the larger ones. That is why you must absolutely speak to a doctor if you believe you have an issue with your thyroid or feel (or see) any lumps on your neck. There is a peace of mind with knowing for certain that you have benign nodules—and only a medical professional can give it to you. 2

What Can Your Doctor Do To Diagnose Thyroid Nodules?

Once a nodule has been identified, one of your next steps is talking to your doctor about whether your thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly.

A healthy thyroid gland can develop these benign nodules. Sometimes they even eventually go away on their own.

However, unfortunately, we must repeat that your doctor must assess whether or not they are cancerous. We know that medical testing produces nerves and anxiety, but it is also the quickest way to assessing and applying the correct treatment.

So what are the main tools in performing these assessments? Typically, doctors choose between ultrasounds or a biopsy where they remove part of the tissue for sample—if not both.

The diagnostic ultrasound provides a picture of the thyroid. It is one of the best resources for determining if the nodule is filled with a fluid or is completely solid.

Cancerous nodules can be spotted through an ultrasound, but the only definite way to identify a cancerous nodule is a biopsy.

A fine needle biopsy may sound painful, but it normally does not even require a local anesthetic. It involves using a needle to remove tissue for testing. Performing this fine needle biopsy helps confirm whether or not the thyroid nodule is benign. 3

What Can Your Doctor Do About Thyroid Nodules?

One you have had your exam, your doctor will be able to provide the proper next steps depending on whether or not the nodules are benign or cancerous.

The discovery or diagnosis of a thyroid nodule is no reason to panic.

Assessing the needs of the thyroid by adequately addressing the needs of the body will allow for comfort and a peace of mind and body.

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