The normal size of the thyroid varies with his activity and dysfunction. A simple size anomaly can be detected on routine clinical examination. It can indicate something wrong by a simple lower neck palpation by the physician. This act may detect an overall volume increase, called a goiter, or a specific increased area, called a nodule. A thyroid ultrasound may be useful to exclude the malignancy of a nodule or to confirm a goiter by measuring the size of the thyroid. Explanations.
Why is it important to check your thyroid size?
How does the thyroid work ?
The thyroid produces hormones affecting the growth, development and body temperature of every human being. The thyroid controls those functions producing specific hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine).
What are thyroid nodules and goiters?
The goiter is an overall increase of the thyroid size. It can mean a lack of thyroid hormones production.
To go further: How to detect thyroid cancer?
Why does the volume of the thyroid vary and how to boost thyroid function?
When the thyroid becomes lazy and produces less thyroid hormone, the pituitary gland produces more TSH which affects the thyroid hormone production. Hypothyroidism is defined with a low thyroid hormones amount and a high TSH amount. Attempts to stimulate the thyroid gland with TSH lead to an increased thyroid size, which grows without increasing the thyroid hormone blood levels. The body is functioning at a slower rhythm, the patient could be constipated, and gain weight.
Also read: Can hypoparathyroidism be prevented?
On the other hand, in a hyperthyroid situation, the body will be hyperfunctional: increased heart and respiratory rates, accelerated digestion, weight loss…
Good to know
Thyroid disorders have to be managed before and during pregnancy. They are monitored with regular blood tests during a pregnancy. Thyroid hormones are essential for a healthy fetus development. In the first three months of a pregnancy, the need for hormones is more important. If you have pre-existing thyroid dysfunction, it is even more essential to monitor hormone levels before and during your pregnancy.
Increased thyroid volume can sometimes be noticed by the patient himself with a swelling neck. The gland size depends on the weight, body type, age, iodine diet and geographical origin of each person. Further investigations could be necessary to treat thyroid dysfunction.