Thyroid nodules are the most common problem with your endocrine system. Your thyroid is a small gland on the front of your neck that is responsible for producing certain hormones that help your body function properly. Sometimes the thyroid gland develops growths or nodules that can be felt through your skin, and can cause certain signs and symptoms.
Visualisation and Palpation
One of the first signs of thyroid nodules is the ability to see them on your throat. You may notice what appears to be lumps on your neck, if you carefully observe changes in your neck every day. Additionally, you can feel these lumps underneath your skin, if you gently palpate your neck.
Another symptoms associated with thyroid nodules is pain. This pain might be localised to your neck, but it also may spread to your jaw or ear.
Inability to Swallow
Rarely, if a thyroid nodule is large enough or inconveniently located, then you may have difficulty swallowing. Or, you might notice that it is becoming increasingly difficult when you swallow. This can be a sign of a thyroid nodule.
If the nodule is pressing on a nerve that runs to your voice box, then your voice might sound hoarse. If you have hoarseness, combined with some or none of other symptoms of a benign thyroid nodule, then contact your doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you or your doctor notices thyroid nodules, you will likely have further testing to confirm that your nodules are benign. You might be given additional blood tests to check for thyroid hormones levels, ultrasound imaging and/or biopsy with a needle to determine whether the nodule is cancerous. Once the results of these tests come back, your doctor will diagnose your nodule as benign or cancerous.
Benign thyroid nodules can be treated using a variety of methods that depend upon the type of nodule that you have. Sometimes, the nodule does not require treatment, and the doctor will use periodic testing to check for changes in the nodule. Your endocrinologist might decide to shrink the nodule using hormones or to remove your nodule completely.