If you have been experiencing trouble sleeping, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, and sensitivity to cold, you may suffer from an underactive or overactive thyroid. Generally, doctors treat this with medication, but in some cases, thyroid surgery is needed.
Thyroid vs. Parathyroid: What are they?
Your thyroid and parathyroid, while both part of the endocrine system, serve completely different functions.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ that is attached to the front of the trachea. It sits right below the voicebox(larynx). It produces the thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine) and secretes it into the blood. Once the T4 is sent throughout the body it is converted to a T3 hormone so it can be used. The T4 hormone produce by the thyroid helps control metabolism, stay warm, use energy, and keeps the brain, muscles, and heart working properly.
What is the parathyroid?
There are 4 parathyroid glands located on the back of the thyroid. They have a small rounded shape and they control the level of calcium in our blood. They do this by producing parathyroid hormone or PTH in response to the current levels of calcium in the blood.
Thyroid and Parathyroid Disease
There are many symptoms that can show up when you begin to suffer from either Thyroid or Parathyroid disease. However, the symptoms are not always the same for thyroid vs parathyroid disease. So it is important to know how the symptoms differ.
Hyperthyroidism - Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid grows and begins to overproduce thyroid hormone. There are a few reasons hyperthyroidism may occur including Grave’s disease or thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism can lead to symptoms like:
- Finding it hard to stay still
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling tired constantly
- Heat sensitivity
- Loss of sex drive
- Weight loss
Hypothyroidism - Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone. Some causes include autoimmune disease, removing a part of the thyroid, congenital hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, medication, and others. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Dry skin and hair
- Weight gain
- Cold sensitivity
- Muscle aches
Hyperparathyroidism - Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one of the parathyroids develops a tumor and begins producing too much hormone. This leads to high levels of calcium in the blood and symptoms like:
- Kidney stones
- Loss of appetite
- Urinating excessively
- Abdominal pain
- Bone and joint pain
Hypoparathyroidism - Hypoparathyroidism is an uncommon condition that is usually only caused by having all 4 parathyroids removed. Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the body is underproducing hormones. It leads to symptoms like:
- Muscle aches in the legs, feet, stomach, or face
- Muscle spasms, especially around the mouth
- Tingling in your toes, fingertips, and lips
- Painful menstrual periods
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
When diagnosing any of these conditions, your doctor will likely start with a physical exam and then order tests to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to catch any issues with the thyroid or parathyroid quickly to avoid worsening conditions. If you believe you may be suffering from thyroid or parathyroid disease, schedule an appointment with Illinois Sinus Center today.
Why might you need thyroid or parathyroid surgery?
Parathyroid surgery is usually only necessary if you suffer from a tumor on your parathyroid, but thyroid surgery may be necessary for multiple reasons. For example, thyroid surgery may be necessary if you are suffering from chronic thyroid cysts, symptomatic thyroid nodules, goiter, to rule out thyroid cancer, or Grave’s disease.
During Thyroid Surgery?
During thyroid surgery, you will be given anesthesia and positioned with pillows under your neck to cause your head to tilt up. An incision is then made, and the surgeon will remove part or all of your thyroid. You will then be stitched up and covered with a gauze dressing. The surgery can take anywhere from 2-3 hours, and you may have to stay overnight. In addition, an extra surgery may be needed if there are lymph nodes that need to be removed.
It usually takes about 1-2 weeks to recover, and there aren’t many restrictions. However, you will be advised against driving for about a week, and you might have to take hormones depending on how much of the thyroid was removed.
Think you may be suffering from thyroid or parathyroid disease?
At Illinois Sinus Center, we can diagnose and treat all thyroid and parathyroid issues. We treat them with care and effectiveness while explaining every step along the way.