What are thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules are growths or lumps that form on the thyroid gland—a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, in front of the trachea (breathing pipe). This gland produces hormones that can affect body metabolism. Thyroid nodules can be solid or fluid-filled, and will usually only be detected during a routine physical examination or imaging study such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. Most thyroid nodules are benign but some can be malignant and require further evaluation and treatment.
What causes thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules can form due to several reasons.
Symptoms of thyroid nodules
Thyroid nodules don’t usually present with symptoms, but if they are numerous or large enough, they may be visible in the neck. Occasionally, thyroid nodules can reach a size that causes difficulty with swallowing, or breathing, hoarseness, pain in the front of the front of the neck, or an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
These nodules can also produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. This can cause:
Prevention and treatment
As the exact cause of the majority of thyroid nodules is not fully understood, it is difficult to determine what will help prevent them. However, you can decrease your risk of developing thyroid nodules by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. For example, quitting smoking, attaining a healthy weight, and getting enough iodine in your diet.
If you have been diagnosed with thyroid nodules, the treatment options you have include:
Thyroid nodules that are noncancerous and do not cause any voice, breathing, or swallowing problems do not have to be removed. But you will have to go for regular check ups to monitor your condition.
Some small benign thyroid nodules may shrink on their own, but others may either remain the same size or grow larger.
There are no known strategies to reduce thyroid nodules but you can try consuming foods high in zinc and vitamin B such as spinach, chicken, eggs, mushrooms and asparagus. Foods high in selenium such as sunflower seeds, halibut, salmon, and oats have also shown to be useful in thyroid nodules.
Stress will not cause thyroid nodules to form, but it can aggravate thyroid problems.