Some years ago, after complaining of a sore throat, the doctors found a nodule in my neck and when a speck of it was aspirated and biopsied, the nodule was suspected to be cancerous, but being so small (it’s size was about .25 cm and enclosed in my thyroid glands) the doctors weren’t actually sure if it’s malignant or benign. A few months before, I have just lost my mother to leukemia and I wouldn’t want my loved ones go through the same harrowing agony of even just the thought of another loved one afflicted with the big C, I kept the situation until I was finally sure what it was.
The doctors gave me two options – either to have a radioactive iodine therapy or have my thyroid glands removed and I opted for the latter. Having seen my mom battle several chances of chemotherapy, the prospect of undergoing radiation was exactly very appealing. you have to be isolated for at least a week. You can’t have any physical contact with anyone. And I dread the effect of radiation. That’s just like I booked myself a room at a hospital and had three quarters of my thyroid glands removed. As a result, I had to take hormone supplements for the rest of my life, with regular check ups done every three to six months.
It wasn’t exactly a major change, except for the fact that I am forever walking the halls of hospitals, regularly having my blood checked, and the fact that at such a young age, I am “maintained” by certain drugs. I would prefer that anytime than to be hounded perpetually with the thought that you could have cancer and might die of it.
Wow. Such changes for something so obscure and so small. But what do they do exactly?
The thyroid glands (the butterfly-shaped organ that composed of two cone-like lobes or wings – the right and the left) situated on the anterior side of the neck, though very small, produces the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine which regulate the body’s rate of metabolism. These two affect the growth rate of function of many other systems in the body. The thyroid gland controls how quickly our body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. These thyroid hormones also regulate the body’s consumption of oxygen and production of heat. These hormones are also needed for normal development of the brain in children and for normal reproductive functioning.
Thyroid disorders include hyperthyroidism (abnormally increased activity), hypothyroidism (abnormally decreased activity) and thyroid nodules, which are generally benign thyroid neoplasms, but may be thyroid cancers. All these disorders may give rise to goiter or an enlarged thyroid. Such thyroid problems can severely affect metabolism.
It’s estimated that 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem, but most of them are not aware. Thyroid problems can have various effects and because of this, the symptoms can be confused with symptoms of other conditions.
Try to answer the following questions with a yes or no:
Do you have aches and pains in your joints?
Do you feel any swelling in your neck, or do you get uncomfortable when wearing turtlenecks or neckties?
Is your skin becoming coarse, thick, dry,and scaly no matter how you try to exfoliate and moisturize?
Do you have excessive hairfall or have you experienced an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of your eyebrow?
Do you experience more frequent and more painful periods or shorter, lighter or infrequent menstruation?Are you having problems conceiving?
Do you have an unusually high or extremely low cholesterol even if you even when you exercise and eat a balanced diet?
Do you have unexplainable and frequent episodes of depression or anxiety disorders and panic attacks?
Is it difficult for you to lose or gain weight no matter how you exercise or eat a lot? Have you experienced unexplained weight changes?
Do you feel exhausted even after waking up from an 8 to 10 hours of sleep? Do you feel sluggish even after coming from a nap in the middle of the day?
Do you have someone in your family who had been diagnosed with any thyroid condition?
Do you sometimes find your heart pounding even when relaxed?
Do you easily get agitated and short-tempered?
- Do you have puffiness around the eyes and a characteristic stare due to the elevation of the upper eyelids? (or does it seem like yur eyes are ready to pop out)
- Do you often experience an increase in bowel movement?
- Do you have tremors or fine shaking movements?
If you answered yes to at least five of these questions, then it may be time to consult your doctor and undergo blood tests and laboratory exams. No need to worry as thyroid conditions can be easily diagnosed and treated.