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Hello Doctor, For past 4 months I have been going through joint pains in fingers, wrist and toes. I did complete body checkup in XXXXXXX this year and it was discovered that I had deficiency of B12...View full Conversation
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1. What Is a Thyroid Specialist?
A thyroid specialist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the thyroid gland. To become a thyroid specialist, after graduating from medical school, a doctor needs to complete a residency program in internal medicine or pediatrics followed by a fellowship in endocrinology.
Endocrinologists specialize in disorders of the glands and hormone production within the body, including the thyroid gland. Common conditions addressed by thyroid specialists include overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underactive (hypothyroidism) thyroid gland, thyroiditis, goiter, Graves disease, thyroid eye disease (Graves ophthalmopathy), thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
2. When Should I See a Thyroid Specialist?
A primary care doctor will usually refer you to a thyroid specialist for specific treatment. You may want to ask a thyroid specialist doctor online about the symptoms that may indicate a problem with your thyroid gland include:
• Thyroid nodule or lump
• Goiter or swelling in the neck
• Pain in front of the neck
• Unintentional weight gain or weight loss
• Slow, rapid, or irregular heartbeat and pounding heart (palpitations)
• Irregular menstruation or changes in menstrual patterns
• Fatigue, muscle weakness
• Sleepiness or problems with sleeping
• Changes in bowel movements
• Anxiety, nervousness
• Poor concentration, confusion, memory problems
• Intolerance to heat or cold
• Dry or puffy eyes
• Bulging eyes, blurred vision, blind spots, sensitivity to light
• Dry and pale skin or soft and thin skin, dry and brittle hair
• Voice hoarseness or persistent coughing
• Problems swallowing
You may also want to see a thyroid doctor if you have a family history of any thyroid disease. Also talk to a thyroid specialist if you have a thyroid condition, and if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
3. What Kind of Tests Does a Thyroid Specialist Perform or Recommend?
Your thyroid specialist may request few tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
• Blood test for hormones including T3, T4, free T4, TSH
• Blood tests for thyroid antibodies (anti-thyroglobulin, anti-thyroperoxidase, others)
• Blood tests for thyroglobulin
• Other blood tests including complete blood count, lipid profile
• Radioactive iodine uptake
• Imaging including thyroid CT scan, MRI scan, and ultrasound
• EKG, echocardiography, and other cardiovascular testing
• Deep tendon reflexes and other neurological testing
• Fine needle aspiration
4. What Questions Should I Ask a Thyroid Specialist?
You may want to ask a thyroid specialist these kinds of questions:
• What is my condition? What caused it?
• What are the complications and risks associated with my condition? Am I at risk for other diseases?
• What is the best treatment option? Are there alternative treatments available? What is my outlook with this treatment?
• Are there any risks involved with taking or not taking the treatment?
• How long will the medicines take to work?
• What are the side effects of this treatment?
• How long do I need to continue taking the medicine?
• Do I need any special diet?
• Are there any lifestyle changes that can help manage my condition?
• Should I continue taking other medicines?
• Are there any foods or drugs that interfere with this treatment?
• Will I need surgery in the future? What are the risks and side effects associated with this surgery? What are my chances of recovery after this surgery?
• What symptoms should I be watchful for?
• How often should I have thyroid function tests or return for follow-up visits?
• Are other people in my family at risk of getting this disease? Should they be checked for this condition?
• Can I still plan a pregnancy?