Thyroid

Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD

Otolaryngology located in Jasper, IN

Thyroid and parathyroid problems are common causes of debilitating health issues that often go undiagnosed until the effects become severe. There are effective treatments for thyroid and parathyroid conditions that can restore your hormone production to the correct levels, however, and Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD, in Jasper, Indiana, is an experienced ear, nose, and throat doctor who can provide you with a clear diagnosis and effective treatment options. Call Dr. Ehrhard’s office or schedule an appointment online today if you have a thyroid or parathyroid condition.

Thyroid & Parathyroid Q & A

What are the thyroid and parathyroid?

The thyroid gland is shaped somewhat like a butterfly and sits in your throat below the Adam’s apple. It produces thyroid hormones that control essential functions such as metabolism, growth, and development.

The parathyroid glands are the size of rice grains, and there are four attached to the thyroid gland. They perform a completely different function than the thyroid gland despite their close proximity, controlling the balance of calcium in your body.

What problems can affect the thyroid and parathyroid?

Both glands can produce too much or too little of the hormones they make, causing one of the following conditions:

Hyperthyroidism

With this condition, also known as an overactive thyroid, the gland produces too much thyroxine and speeds up your metabolism, leading to symptoms like:

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat, or palpitations
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Skin problems and brittle, thinning hair

As hyperthyroidism progresses, more serious complications can develop such as dangerous hypertension and heart failure.

Hypothyroidism

With hypothyroidism the thyroid gland produces too little thyroxine, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Thinning hair
  • Mood disorders and memory problems

Both thyroid conditions are more common if you’re a woman or older than 60.

Hyperparathyroidism

This condition is where your parathyroid glands are overactive and produce too much parathyroid hormone, leading to high levels of calcium in your blood that causes symptoms like:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Weakened immune system

This condition may be caused by an enlarged parathyroid gland or as the result of an underlying disease.

Hypoparathyroidism

This condition occurs when the parathyroid gland produces too little parathyroid hormone, causing symptoms of calcium imbalance, including:

  • Paresthesia (tingling or burning in fingertips, toes, and lips)
  • Aching muscles and cramping in legs, feet, face or abdomen
  • Fatigue, weakness, and depression
  • Patchy hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails

Because the symptoms of these conditions could be due to a number of other conditions, it’s important that you visit a specialist like Dr. Ehrhard for proper diagnosis.

How are thyroid and parathyroid problems treated?

The precise course of treatment Dr. Ehrhard recommends varies according to which condition you have.

Hyperthyroidism treatments include radioactive iodine to shrink your thyroid gland, anti-thyroid medications, and surgery (thyroidectomy). Beta blockers can ease symptoms of hyperthyroidism while other treatments take effect.

With hypothyroidism, Dr. Ehrhard usually prescribes a synthetic thyroid hormone drug called levothyroxine that restores normal thyroxine levels and reverses your symptoms.

Hyperparathyroidism treatments include a surgical procedure called a parathyroidectomy, which  Dr. Ehrhard can carry out in his clinic under local anesthetic. Calcimimetic drugs that mimic calcium circulating in your blood may help by stopping the parathyroid glands from producing as much hormone. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bisphosphonates may be prescribed as they help bones retain calcium.

Hypoparathyroidism treatment consists of calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplementation to rebalance the ratio of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in your body.

If you have any concerns or suspicions that your symptoms may be due to thyroid or parathyroid problems, schedule an appointment online or by phone today to meet with Dr. Ehrhard.