With 20 years of experience, Dr. Scumpia provides diagnosis, treatment, and management of all types of thyroid-related disorders with convenient onsite testing.
The thyroid is butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower neck, above the breastbone on either side of the windpipe. Its function is to provide the body with thyroid hormones and chemicals that are essential for the normal function of each cell organ in the body.
The most common thyroid disorder is an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism: the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone. Less frequent is an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism: the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. If properly treated, thyroid patients lead normal, active lives. When left untreated, thyroid disorders can affect the patient’s cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and other major organs.
One in five people will develop a thyroid lump which needs medical attention. One in ten people (30 million people in the US) have an overactive or underactive thyroid, but half of them do not even know they have the disease. Even among those who know, many are taking either too much or too little medication.
How Does the Thyroid Work?
- The thyroid gland operates as part of a feedback mechanism involving the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.
- First, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland through a hormone called TRH (thyrotropin releasing hormone).
- When the pituitary gland receives this signal, it releases TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to the thyroid gland.
- Upon receiving TSH, the thyroid responds by releasing two of its own hormones, T4 and T3, which then enter the bloodstream and affect the metabolism of the heart, liver, muscle and other organs.
- T4 is the main hormone released by the thyroid.
- T3 is made in the tissue after T4 to T3 conversion.
- Finally, the pituitary “monitors” the level of thyroid hormone in the blood and increases or decreases the amount of TSH released, which then changes the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood.
What Are Symptoms of Thyroid Disease?
- Weight loss, tremors, palpitations, nervousness, frequent bowel movements, tiredness, irregular menstrual periods, lump in the neck, and enlargement of the thyroid gland.
- People with a history of neck irradiation in childhood or adolescence are at high risk of thyroid cancer.
- You are at high risk of having a thyroid problem if you have close relatives with a history of thyroid disease, take insulin for diabetes, need vitamin B12 shots for anemia, have premature gray hair, or have white skin patches (known as vitiligo).
How Common is Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease can lead to goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland, nodules, and lumps. To rule out cancer, a thyroid fine needle aspiration (biopsy) is required. An overactive or underactive thyroid causes symptoms affecting almost every organ in your body, is difficult to diagnose, and is often missed. Even a slight deviation from normal has been linked recently to bone loss, high cholesterol, and heart problems.