Thyroid & Parathyroid Disorders (Hypothyroidism) Treatment in Foley & Daphne, AL
If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate the possibility of an underlying disorder, our thyroid and parathyroid specialist Dr. Kowal will order testing to make an accurate diagnosis and determine the right treatment for your needs.
What are the thyroid and parathyroid?
Through the hormones they produce, the thyroid and parathyroid glands influence almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. The thyroid gland, located on the front part of the neck, regulates the hormones that control how the body breaks down and metabolizes food and body energy. Most people have four small parathyroid glands located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. Parathyroids produce regulating hormones called parathyroid hormones (PTH) that keep the right balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body.
What are the different types of thyroid and parathyroid disorders?
There are various types of thyroid and parathyroid disorders:
Hyperthyroidism is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, which can occur in several ways:
- Graves’ disease – An immune system disorder that results in the production of too much thyroid hormone
- Toxic adenomas – Nodules develop in the thyroid gland and begin to secrete thyroid hormones, upsetting the body’s chemical balance; some goiters may contain several of these nodules
- Subacute thyroiditis – Inflammation of the thyroid that causes the gland to leak excess hormones, resulting in temporary hyperthyroidism that generally lasts a few weeks but may persist for months
- Pituitary gland malfunctions or cancerous growths in the thyroid gland – Although rare, hyperthyroidism can also develop from these causes
Hypothyroidism stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones and causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – In this autoimmune disorder, the body attacks thyroid tissue and the tissue eventually dies and stops producing hormones
- Removal of the thyroid gland – The thyroid may have been surgically removed or chemically destroyed
- Exposure to excessive amounts of iodine – Cold and sinus medicines, the heart medicine amiodarone, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays may expose you to too much iodine
- Health history – You may be at a greater risk for developing hypothyroidism if you have had thyroid problems in the past
- Lithium – This drug has been implicated as a possible cause of hypothyroidism
Enlarged Thyroid (Goiter)
Goiter is characterized by a thyroid that becomes enlarged due to overactivity or under-activity. In some people with an enlarged thyroid, the goiter is associated with an abnormality of thyroid function, including either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Other causes of goiter may include:
- Autoimmune diseases and disorders – Disorders that cause the thyroid to swell (Graves’ disease) or become damaged (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) can lead to goiter
- Radiotherapy treatment – Radiotherapy to the neck can lead to inflammation of the thyroid
- Iodine deficiency and certain medicines – Getting too little iodine in your diet or taking certain medications such as lithium and amiodarone can also cause the thyroid to swell
Additionally, nodular goiters may develop in the thyroid. Sometimes there are many nodules, a condition called multinodulargoiter, and the thyroid feels lumpy. In other cases, a single small lump may develop in the thyroid gland. This can be a relatively simple issue, such as a cyst or an adenoma. It could also be a solid tumor that may or may not be cancerous.
Hyperparathyroidism occurs if there is too much parathyroid hormone (PTH), causing blood calcium to rise. Causes of hyperparathyroidism include:
- A noncancerous growth (adenoma) – An adenoma on one of the parathyroid glands is the most common cause of hyperparathyroidism
- Enlargement (hyperplasia) – Enlargement of two or more parathyroid glands accounts for most other cases
Hypoparathyroidism occurs if parathyroid glands do not produce enough PTH, which creates a condition that causes blood to have too little calcium and too much phosphorous. Possible causes of this disorder include:
- Injury to the parathyroid glands
- Endocrine disorders
- Certain genetic conditions
What are the signs and symptoms of thyroid and parathyroid disorders?
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hyperparathyroidism include:
- Heart palpitations
- Inward trembling
- Increased pulse (even at rest)
- Weight gain
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Being nervous and emotional
- Night sweats
Symptoms of hypothyroidism and hypoparathyroidism include:
- Fatigue, tiredness or sluggishness
- Cold feet and/or hands
- Require excessive amounts of sleep to function
- Gain weight easily
- Have difficult or infrequent bowel movements
- Lack of motivation
- Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
- Thinning hair or excessive hair loss
- Dryness of skin and/or scalp
- Mental sluggishness
How are thyroid and parathyroid disorders treated?
Our parathyroid and thyroid doctors will decide the appropriate treatment based on the type of condition you have and your unique needs.
- Hyperthyroidism is usually treated by reducing the level of the hormone thyroxine in your body.
- Hypothyroidism is usually treated through taking thyroxine tablets to replace the thyroxine that your thyroid is not making.
- Enlarged thyroid (goiter) may also need treatment, depending on the underlying cause of the problem, your age and the size of the goiter. A thyroid specialist may need to remove nodules, particularly if a nodule is determined to be cancerous.
- Hyperparathyroidism is usually treated by restoring the normal levels of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in your body. Sometimes our parathyroid specialist will recommend surgery to remove one or more of the affected parathyroid glands.
- Hypoparathyroidism is treated by restoring the normal levels of calcium and phosphorous in your body, which is usually accomplished with calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Dr. Keith Kowal is a highly experienced ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist in Foley, Alabama with expertise in diagnosing and treating thyroid and parathyroid disorders. If you have symptoms of any of the thyroid or parathyroid disorders described above, the first step is to arrange a consultation at ENT Centers of Excellence. Dr. Keith Kowal will diagnose and discover exactly what’s causing your symptoms and recommend the best treatment options for your needs. Call 251.943.1117 now to schedule an appointment with our parathyroid and thyroid specialists or simply fill out the form on this page.