Thyroid Disorders

How do I know if I have a thyroid disorder?

Thyroid conditions are becoming more common and have many symptoms discussed below.

Generally thyroid problems fall into three categories, underactive or hypothyroidism, overactive or hyperthyroidism and structural thyroid conditions like thyroid nodules.

Hypothyrodism

An underactive thyroid can contribute to fatigue and weight gain.  Fatigue and weight gain however are typically multifactorial and not caused by thyroid dysfunction alone.  

We will work out with you the different factors that contribute to these symptoms and recommend treatment based on the cause.  The most common is the autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the immune system attacks the thyroid.  This is often marked by high levels of thyroid antibodies.

Hashimotos thyroiditisThyroid hormone replacement therapy
Central hypothyroidismTreating pituitary or hypothalamic cause
Non-thyroidal illnessManaging underlying condition 
Thyroid hormone resistanceNo treatment recommended
Thyrotopin secreting adenomaSurgical Resection

Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid contributes to feelings of anxiety, palpitations, tremor and even weight loss.  

Common causes include Grave’s Disease which is an autoimmune condition that is associated with great emotional instability which can be very troubling.  Graves disease also can be associated with changes to the eyes where protrusion of the eye balls cause double vision, termed Graves Opthalmopathy.    

Not all causes of an overactive thyroid are as dramatic as symptoms of Grave’s Disease. Most are milder and more gradual in onset.  These include acute thyroiditis as well as nodules in the thyroid that oversecrete thyroid hormone.

Treatment is very different depending on the cause and severity of disease. It ranges from medication that can suppress the overactive thyroid to radioiodine treatment as well as surgery. 

Thyroid nodules

Thyroid nodules are common and often benign.  They can however cause symptoms of obstruction like swallowing and breathing difficulties.  An assessment is needed by your Endocrinologist.  

Though most thyroid nodules are benign, it is important to have it assessed by a specialist as you do not want to miss the diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

If it is thyroid cancer, very effective therapy is available and survival and cure rates are far better than most other forms of cancer.  

Treatment includes surgery with or without radioiodine ablation, ongoing thyroid hormone replacement and suppression of TSH as well as surveillance of recurrence with imaging modalities like ultrasound, CT scanning and radioiodine scans.    

We have strong links with Alfred Hospital surgeons and with multidisciplinary teams to support you.