Located in the neck, the thyroid gland is responsible for producing and regulating hormones that play a role in growth and development.
This butterfly-shaped organ also controls how your body uses energy, a process known as metabolism. But if this gland isn’t producing hormones correctly, you might be referred to a thyroid doctor in Los Angeles to find out what’s going on and what treatments you may benefit from.
If your thyroid is producing enough hormones, you have a condition known as hypothyroidism. Affecting approximately 10 million Americans, it’s one of the most common reasons for referral to a thyroid doctor in Los Angeles for further evaluation and treatment. Testing to confirm that you have an under-active thyroid gland typically involves a blood test to look for high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
TSH is what your body releases when it senses low hormone levels. If you are a female, testing may be done to see if you have a chromosomal disorder called Turner syndrome, which can affect the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism isn’t curable. There is, however, a pill you can take – an oral form of thyroid hormone replacement – to manage symptoms.
If your thyroid gland is too active, you have hyperthyroidism. Because your body is breaking down food too fast to produce energy, you’ll likely have excessive amounts of energy if you have this condition. A thyroid doctor in Los Angeles can also determine if you have Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that’s a common cause of thyroid over-activity.
Diagnosis normally involves a physical exam to check for common symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as a rapid pulse, an enlarged thyroid, and unusually smooth or moist skin. A blood test is also typically done to check TSH levels. Some patients benefit from beta-blockers to control certain symptoms. However, an L.A. thyroid doctor may suggest a permanent treatment solution. Options include:
- Radioactive iodine tablets to destroy thyroid cells and reduce thyroid gland activity
- Anti-thyroid drugs that slow down the thyroid’s production of hormones
- Surgery to remove part or all of the gland (thyroidectomy)
If you have a lump around where your thyroid gland is located, a thyroid doctor in Los Angeles can determine what type of treatment may be necessary. The good news is that thyroid nodules are fairly common, especially in individuals 60 and older.
Also, nodules are rarely cancerous, although tests can be performed to make sure this is the case. These tests typically include either an ultrasound scan or a fine-needle biopsy. Since nodules can affect how the thyroid gland produces hormones, you may be evaluated to determine if you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
If thyroid cancer is detected, it does have a high cure rate. Treatment usually involves removal of all or part of the thyroid. Lymph nodes in the neck may also be removed. You’ll need to take medication for the rest of your life after surgery to maintain optimal hormone levels.
It’s estimated that nearly 15 million people in the U.S. have thyroid conditions that are undiagnosed. If you’re not responding well to treatment for depression, fatigue, or unexplained memory issues, a thyroid doctor in Los Angeles can let you know if symptoms of this nature may be related to a treatable thyroid condition.