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Thyroid Problems

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. This butterfly-shaped gland sits just below the voice box and helps your body regulate your metabolism. There are four main types of thyroid disease:

  • Hyperthyroidism -- too much thyroid hormone
  • Hypothyroidism -- too little thyroid hormone
  • Benign (noncancerous) thyroid disease
  • Thyroid cancer

Surgery to remove the thyroid, or part of it, often is necessary for several reasons, including:

  • A small thyroid growth (nodule or cyst)
  • A thyroid gland that is so overactive it is dangerous (thyrotoxicosis)
  • Cancer of the thyroid
  • Noncancerous (benign) tumors of the thyroid that are causing symptoms
  • Thyroid swelling (nontoxic goiter) that makes it hard for you to breathe or swallow

You may also have surgery if you have an overactive thyroid gland and do not want to have radioactive iodine treatment, or you cannot be treated with antithyroid medicines.

The outcome of this surgery is usually excellent. Most people will need to take thyroid hormone pills (thyroid hormone replacement) for the rest of their lives if the whole gland has been removed.

If you have questions about thyroid disease or surgery, one of the board-certified ear, nose and throat specialists with Saint John Hospital may be able to help you. They can provide testing to determine the cause of the thyroid problem, and offer proven medical and surgical treatments.