Thyroid Mystery

It isn’t menopause…it isn’t depression…and it isn’t normal. But that’s how thyroid disease is often diagnosed. If it’s left untreated, thyroid disease can be devastating. The bad news for Peggy Zunzel is her doctor spotted something suspicious in her throat. The good news is she’s getting tested to see what it is.

Stanley Feld, M.D., Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, TX:
“The people most at risk are women. In fact, one-third of the female population has nodules and don’t know it.”

The thyroid is a bow tie-shaped gland that’s right under your voice box. It controls your metabolism. When it produces too much or too little thyroid hormone there can be problems…and they can be mistaken for depression, menopause, even heart disease. Thyroid nodules can also cause complications. Now, doctors can tell whether the lumps are serious with a simple biopsy.

Stanley Feld, M.D.:
“With a fine needle aspiration, and a small sampling of tissue, you can tell whether this abnormal growth is benign, or this abnormal growth is malignant.”

Thyroid specialists have also established new guidelines to determine when tests should be done.

Stanley Feld, M.D.:
“We believe these guidelines are going to decrease suffering to the patient, they’re going to increase the outcome of care to the patient, and it’s going to decrease the massive burden of health care costs to society.”

Thyroid disease can be treated with radioactive iodine to shrink the gland, antithyroid drugs to block hormone production, beta-blocker drugs to block the hormone’s effect, pills to give the body the right amount of hormones or surgery for thyroid cancer.

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