Thyroid nodules are among the most common thyroid disorders.
In most cases, it turns out to be a benign condition, which is more prevalent in women. But how do you notice it?
Thyroid Nodule: The Signs Not to Underestimate
A thyroid nodule tends to be silent, and its discovery is often incidental. However, there are cases when suspicion of a thyroid nodule may arise. For example, when someone experiences difficulty swallowing or breathing or a sense of constriction in the neck or when the nodule is visible. The same can be said if typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism occur, such as tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, sudden weight loss, increased appetite, and sweating. An ultrasound is performed in these cases to check if a nodule is present.
These nodules are called incidentalomas, or nodularities found incidentally during examinations for symptoms not attributable to thyroid disease, for example, during ultrasonography of the supra-aortic vessels or a spine MRI at the cervical level. So, the presence of a nodule can be detected incidentally or can be suspected simply by observing the neck.
Thyroid Nodules and Lifestyle: Is There a Correlation?
There are no lifestyle-associated factors that could cause a nodule. The only one that may be associated with an increased risk is the almost exclusive consumption of Brassicaceae (the cabbage family, cauliflower, etc.), which is an improbable scenario.
What Happens After a Nodule Is Diagnosed?
After assessing the functional status of the thyroid gland, the specialist will decide whether to proceed with cytologic examination of the nodule by needle aspiration in order to rule out a possible thyroid carcinoma. This depends on the ultrasound characteristics of the nodule and specific risk factors such as previous neck irradiation.
In cases where the thyroid nodule is benign and if its size is not such as to result in tracheal or esophageal compression, it will be sufficient to monitor with ultrasonography any changes in the size of the nodule at a frequency of not less than once a year.
Thyroid Nodules: How to Intervene?
There is no medical therapy to prevent a nodule, as medical treatment will be prescribed only in case of thyroid dysfunction. Surgery will occur in case of large nodules associated with compressive symptoms or a positive cytological finding for thyroid neoplasia.
Doctors will decide whether to opt for surgery or radiometabolic treatment with iodine for a hyperfunctioning nodule- when associated with hyperthyroidism.