What are Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid nodules, which can be either solid or liquid-filled, form in your thyroid gland, which is located just above your breastbone at the base of your neck.
Thyroid nodules don’t usually cause symptoms and are generally not serious. Only a few thyroid nodules can be considered cancerous.
You may not be aware of a thyroid nodule until your doctor finds it during a routine exam. Your doctor might discover it during another scan. However, some thyroid nodules may grow large enough to make it difficult to swallow and breathe.
The type of thyroid nodule that you have will determine the treatment options.
Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules
Thyroid nodules rarely cause symptoms. Sometimes, however, some thyroid nodules can cause symptoms.
- Be felt
- You will often see swelling at your neck’s base
- Press down on your windpipe or esophagus to cause difficulty swallowing or shortness of air
Thyroxine is a hormone that your thyroid gland secretes. In some cases, thyroid nodules can produce more thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where thyroid hormones are overproduced.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased sweating
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Only a few thyroid nodules can be considered cancerous. However, it is impossible to determine which thyroid nodules are cancerous by simply observing your symptoms. Cancerous thyroid nodules tend to be slow-growing and may not grow when they are discovered by your doctor. Thyroid cancers that are aggressive and rare. They can be found in nodules that could be large, firm, or fixed, as well as those that grow rapidly.
Thyroid nodules are generally benign and do not cause any problems. However, your doctor should be able to examine any unusual swelling, mainly if it causes difficulty breathing or swallowing. It is vital to assess the possibility of developing cancer.
If you have signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as:
- Sudden weight loss can occur even if your appetite has increased or is normal
- A pounding heart
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle weakness
- Nervousness and irritability
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.
- Feeling cold
- More tired easily
- Dry skin
- Memory problems
Causes of Thyroid Nodules
Nodules can develop in your thyroid gland from a variety of conditions, including:
- Thyroid adenoma is an overgrowth of normal tissue. Although it is not known why it occurs, it isn’t cancerous, and it isn’t considered serious unless the growth causes troublesome symptoms. Thyroid adenomas can cause hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroid cyst. Most often, fluid-filled cavities (cysts in the thyroid) are caused by degenerating thyroid adenomas. Thyroid cysts often contain solid components mixed with fluid. Although cysts are not usually cancerous, they can contain cancerous solid parts.
- Thyroid inflammation can lead to chronic inflammation. Enlarged nodules may result from Hashimoto’s Disease, a thyroid disorder. This is often associated with hypothyroidism.
- Multinodular Goiter. This term refers to any swelling of the thyroid gland that can be caused either by an iodine deficit or a thyroid disorder. Multinodular goiter has multiple nodules, but its cause is unclear.
- Thyroid cancer. There are very few chances that a thyroid nodule will be cancerous. A hard, large nodule that causes pain or discomfort can be more concerning. It is crucial to get it checked by your doctor. Thyroid cancer can be increased by certain factors, including a family history of thyroid cancer or other endocrine tumors, and a history of radiation exposure from either medical therapy or nuclear fallout.
- Iodine deficiency. Sometimes, a lack of iodine can cause thyroid nodules. Iodine deficiency in the United States is rare, as iodine is added to many foods and table salt.