Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone. Most thyroid nodules aren’t serious and don’t cause symptoms.
Most thyroid nodules don’t cause signs or symptoms. However, some nodules become so large that they can be felt, be seen, often as a swelling at the base of your neck, or press on your windpipe or esophagus, causing shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing. In some cases, thyroid nodules produce additional thyroxine, a hormone secreted by your thyroid gland. The extra thyroxine can cause symptoms of an overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), such as unexplained weight loss, increased sweating, tremor, nervousness, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
The majority of thyroid nodules are caused by an overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue. The cause of this overgrowth is usually unknown, but there is a strong genetic basis. In rare cases, thyroid nodules are associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that leads to hypothyroidism.
Treatment depends on the type of thyroid nodule you have. If a biopsy shows that you have a noncancerous thyroid nodule, your doctor may suggest simply watching your condition. This usually means having a physical exam and thyroid function tests at regular intervals.
Doctors use radioactive iodine to treat hyperthyroidism. Taken as a capsule or in liquid form, radioactive iodine is absorbed by your thyroid gland. This causes the nodules to shrink and signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism to subside, usually within two to three months.
In conclusion, while most thyroid nodules are benign and don’t cause symptoms, it’s important to get any unusual swelling in your neck checked out by a healthcare professional. Early detection and treatment are key to managing this condition effectively.