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When the thyroid acts up, Health News & Top Stories

When the thyroid acts up, Health News & Top Stories

The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of our neck, is part of our endocrine system, which comprises glands that produce, store and release hormones to regulate our metabolism and ensure the healthy functioning of important organs in our body such as the heart, liver, brain and skin

Needless to say, the thyroid plays a major role in maintaining our body’s general wellness. So, when it begins producing abnormal amounts of hormones, thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, which appear to be more common among women between the ages of 20 and 50, may occur. 

Hypothyroidism happens when an underactive thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient hormones to meet the body’s ne, while hyperthyroidism is the opposite — when an overactive gland triggers excessive production of thyroid hormones. 

Professor Christopher Goh, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital, shares the symptoms to look out for, “If your weight and mood have been fluctuating inexplicably and you experience irregular periods or increased sensitivity to the temperature of your surroundings, feel fatigued all the time and observe changes in your physical appearance that may include dry or irritated skin, brittle hair and nails or a swelling in your neck, go to a doctor for a thyroid examination.”

Milder cases of thyroid disorders may not show symptoms, but if small bumps or nodules start appearing around your neck area, you should get them checked. Most thyroid nodules are benign and do not pose a serious threat to your health, but they may continue to grow to a point where they affect your breathing or cause problems with swallowing food.

Most thyroid conditions — even the worst-case scenario of thyroid cancer — may be effectively treated and managed, if detected early enough. 

When to consider a thyroidectomy

On when you should remove the thyroid, Prof Goh advises, “If you have large thyroid nodules or an enlarged thyroid gland that is causing compressive symptoms in your neck such as difficulty breathing or eating, you may be advised to consider removing the thyroid. Other indications for thyroid surgery include signs of cancerous growth and sometimes as treatment for hyperthyroidism.” 

Thyroidectomy is a procedure that involves either removing the entire thyroid gland or partial removal of the gland. Prof Goh says a removal of the whole gland may be recommended for the treatment of advanced thyroid cancers, large multinodular goitres and for selected cases, hyperthyroidism.

“If only a part of your thyroid is removed, it can still function normally after surgery. But if removed entirely, your doctor will start you on a daily course of thyroid hormone medication to replace your thyroid’s natural function after surgery,” he adds.

Thyroidectomy is typically performed via an incision at the front of the neck. It is generally a safe procedure, although you may experience some post-surgery discomfort in the neck area and hoarseness of voice. These symptoms are often temporary and may take a few weeks to recover. Depending on your condition and the type of thyroidectomy performed, you may be discharged within a few days of the procedure,” adds Prof Goh. 

Know the cost up front

For patients who need to undergo thyroidectomy, knowing their bill cost before the procedure will take a load off their minds. 

That’s where private healthcare group Parkway Pantai comes in, with its Price Guarantee Procedures (PGP) programme, to help patients make well-informed decisions about their medical procedures prior to admission. 

Using an AI-powered tool to generate an overview of the patient’s final hospital bill — including the average length of stay, ward type, diagnosis and surgical procedures — PGP provides patients with an accurate cost of their treatment, ensuring that they are fully aware of how much they can expect to pay, right from the start. 

Besides enjoying greater price transparency, patients are also covered for any related complications that may arise, following their procedures, for up to seven days.

PGP is currently offered at Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital. All self-paying and insured patients are eligible for PGP, which are offered by doctors participating in the programme.

Thyroidectomy is one of six operations that are eligible for PGP. The other surgical procedures include the removal of piles, breast lumps, cysts, gall bladder and tonsils.

For more information, call 6812-3789 or visit the hospital websites: Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital.

This article is for informational purposes only. Please refer to the specific procedures’ financial counselling forms for detailed programme inclusions and exclusions. Prospective patients should always seek independent medical advice.

Gleneagles Hospital (2020) Thyroidectomy (Thyroid Gland Removal) [Online]. Available from: https://www.gleneagles.com.sg/specialties/medical-specialties/ear-nose-throat/thyroidectomy (Accessed: Jan 2, 2020)

Health Plus (2019) What You Should Know About Thyroid Nodules [Online]. Available from: https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/healthplus/article/thyroid-nodules (Accessed: Jan 2, 2020)

HealthXhange.sg (2016) Thyroid Cancer: Causes, Types And Symptoms [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthxchange.sg/cancer/thyroid-cancer/thyroid-cancer-causes-types-symptoms (Accessed: Jan 2, 2020)