The thyroid gland plays a critical role in a person’s overall health. Yet many people suffering from thyroid conditions remain undiagnosed, and do not understand the serious health repercussions of untreated thyroid disorders. Diagnosis and treatment are key to managing a thyroid problem, and will help to control the related symptoms. Join endocrinologists Dr. Christian Nasr and Dr. Mary Vouyiouklis, and endocrine surgeon Dr. Rosemarie Metzger online for answers to your questions about thyroid diseases .
The thyroid is an endocrine gland that is responsible for controlling metabolism (the energy produced and used by the body) and regulating the body’s sensitivity to hormones. Diseases of the thyroid cause either underactivity or overactivity of this gland. Underactivity of the thyroid results in hypothyroidism (also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and goiter. Hypothyroidism can produce symptoms of weight gain, sensitivity to cold and brittle nails and hair. In Western countries, hypothyroidism is largely due to an autoimmune response, although iodine deficiency can also cause underactivity – which is largely in other parts of the world that lack iodized salt. Hypothyroidism is associated with several other diseases, including heart disease, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and metabolic syndrome. Overactivity of the thyroid is seen in Grave’s disease, which results in bulging eyeballs, anxiety and sensitivity to heat among other symptoms. Enlargement of the thyroid can be the result of noncancerous goiter, which may or may not result in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, or cancer. Radiation exposure, such as x-rays—especially in children—can affect thyroid status.
Lab tests of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), T3 and T4 help in the diagnosis of thyroid conditions. Recent changes in screening guidelines that have a lower threshold limit of TSH hormone affects the thyroid status of millions of adults in the U.S. This has resulted in the diagnosis of many more patients with hypothyroidism. Lab results, symptoms and physical exam help direct physicians to the proper diagnosis and treatment of the thyroid.
Cleveland Clinic is a national leader in caring for patients with all types of thyroid conditions, from the routine to the complex. Our patients benefit from access to a multidisciplinary staff, the most advanced technology and the latest clinical trials for thyroid conditions. Cleveland Clinic’s Diabetes & Endocrinology Program is ranked 2nd in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s annual America’s Best Hospitals survey.
We are privileged to include Dr. Christian Nasr included in this chat. Dr. Nasr is an endocrinologist in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in Cleveland Clinic’s Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute. He is board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. A medical school graduate of the Saint Joseph University Faculty of Medicine, he completed his residency at Staten Island University Hospital and his fellowship in endocrinology at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Nasr’s specialty interests include thyroid nodules, thyroid cancers and disorders, and flushing syndromes.
Dr. Vouyiouklis is an endocrinologist in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in Cleveland Clinic’s Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute. She is board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. A medical school graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, she completed her residency in internal medicine and fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Vouyiouklis’s specialty interests include thyroid cancer and disorders, thyroid in pregnancy, and hyperparathyroidism.
Dr. Metzger is an endocrine surgeon in the Department of Endocrine Surgery in Cleveland Clinic’s Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, she completed her residency in general surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center and fellowship in endocrine surgery at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Metzger’s specialty interests include thyroid cancer and nodules, parathyroid and calcium disorders, goiters, and adrenal gland disease.