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Thyroid Nodules and Weight Changes

by | Jul 1, 2024

Discover how thyroid nodules can impact weight changes. Visit our specialized thyroid clinic in Singapore for expert diagnosis and personalized treatment with our thyroid nodules specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja.

woman on diet and weight loss

Introduction to Thyroid Nodules and Weight Changes

Your thyroid plays a key role in weight regulation. If your thyroid is underactive, you will tend to gain weight. If it is overactive, you will tend to lose weight. This is obviously a simplification, as there are other factors, but unexpected weight gain or loss is sometimes a sign something is wrong with your thyroid.

A thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth in your thyroid, forming a lump. The vast majority are noncancerous and most do not cause symptoms. They are typically discovered incidentally during a routine physical or tests for another condition, or occasionally by patients who may notice a lump when fastening a collar or necklace. However, some nodules may affect thyroid function.

doctor feeling thyroid gland of female patient

Thyroid Function and its Impact on Weight

The thyroid gland regulates your metabolism. If it is not producing enough hormones, then your weight will creep up. This is caused by a reduction in your basal metabolic rate (BMR), meaning your body is using less energy while resting. Low thyroid function also causes an accumulation of salt and water. 

If your thyroid is producing too much, your weight will tend to drop. Your BMR increases and you need more calories to maintain body weight. However, weight loss is often mitigated by increased appetite, resulting in eating more to compensate. In fact, some hyperthyroid patients may gain weight because their appetite increases more than they need, and many gain weight when hyperthyroidism is treated.

 

How Thyroid Nodules Affect Thyroid Function

Most nodules don’t affect thyroid function at all and don’t need to be treated until they cause other problems. These are called euthyroid nodules. However, nodules may produce less or more hormone. It is more likely that nodules will produce too much than too little.

Hypothyroidism shows symptoms including weight gain and fatigue, while hyperthyroidism presents with weight loss and increased appetite. Other symptoms might occur, for example, hair loss can happen with hypothyroidism because it slows down the cycle of new hair production.

 

Diagnosing Thyroid Nodules and Related Conditions

The majority of thyroid nodules can be found through thyroid nodules diagnosis when checking for thyroid function and whether is it benign or cancerous. Checking for nodules is typically only done if the patient is experiencing symptoms of hypo or hyperthyroidism, which may be caused by nodules or other issues, or if levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are abnormal. Testing thyroid function is done through a simple blood test which tests the levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and T4 in the blood.

Doctors vary on whether asymptomatic adults should be routinely screened for thyroid issues. Risk factors include advancing age, female sex, and family history. If abnormal thyroid levels are found, then nodules are checked for through a simple physical exam or through imaging of the neck.

 

Treatment Options for Thyroid Nodules and Weight Management

Asymptomatic nodules that aren’t impacting thyroid function don’t need to be treated. In some cases, nodules may grow large enough to cause difficulty speaking or swallowing, or pain, and in these cases they may be surgically removed.

Otherwise, treatment is typically through medication. Hypothyroid individuals are treated with levothyroxine, which directly increases T4 levels – it’s a hormone replacement therapy that is taken orally once a day. Levothryoxine has few side effects.

One treatment for hyperthyroidismis antithyroid agents, typically methimazole and propylthiouracil, which reduce the thyroid’s ability to take up iodine. Side effects can include cough, fever, hoarseness, mouth sores, joint pain, throat infection, and malaise. However, these side effects are not that common. The most common side effects are a mild temporary fever when the medication is started and rash or itching.

Surgery is generally only recommended if the nodule is cancerous or if it is large and causing problems such as thyroidectomy aimed at removing a part of or all the thyroid gland. Alternatively, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive treatment to reduce the size of the nodule, which offers numerous advantages including a simple outpatient procedure. 

 

Managing Weight Changes Associated With Thyroid Nodules

Treatment may not completely resolve weight changes. There are some simple lifestyle changes you can make. Hyperthyroid patients may need to work on portion control when treatment starts to prevent weight gain. You should also consider:

  • Increasing iodine intake for hypothyroidism or decreasing it for hyperthyroidism.
  • Reducing added sugars and ultra-processed foods and replacing them with healthy eating such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Reducing red meat and replacing it with lean meat, cold water fish, or beans
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene
  • Reducing stress
  • Becoming more active
  • For hyperthyroidism, increasing calcium from non-dairy sources

 

When to Seek Medical Advice

You should seek medical advice if you find a lump in your neck when fastening a collar or necklace, or if your partner finds one. While the vast majority of thyroid nodules are non-cancerous, a lump should be checked.

You should also seek advice if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced cold tolerance
  • Unexplained pain in muscles or joints
  • Dry skin
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Reduced heat tolerance
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Twitching

 

Visit our Specialized Thyroid Nodules Clinic in Singapore

Both of these should be investigated and both are easy to treat with minimally invasive options such as medication or radiofrequency ablation. If you have symptoms that indicate a problem with your thyroid or find a lump in your neck, then you should seek the advice of a doctor like Dr. Manish Taneja. At Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic, he specializes in treating thyroid issues in Singapore. We invite you to contact us through phone, Whatsapp, email, or filling out the form.

Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Treatment

Radiofrequency ablation aims to give patients a non-surgical option for treating thyroid nodules. This procedure is a minimally invasive option that a surgeon can perform, should the preliminary tests determine that you would benefit from it.

The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules
The major advantages of the technique are as below.

  1. It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
  2. It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
  3. Patients are discharged the same day.
  4. Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
  5. It does not affect thyroid function.
  6. Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
  7. The treated nodules do not regrow again.
  8. No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
  9. Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
  10. The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.

Find out how thyroid nodule Radiofrequency Ablation can help you in a minimally invasive way on our blog post, “Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment: Diagnosis,  Management, and Recovery.”

Find the Right Doctor

From family and internal medicine to specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja is the best in the field. As a vascular and interventional radiology specialist, Dr Manish Taneja looks after peripheral vascular disease, aneurysms, dialysis interventions, venous diseases like deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins/spider veins/reticular veins. He is also competent in performing newer endovascular procedures such as uterine artery embolization, prostate artery embolization, genicular artery embolization, and erectile dysfunction interventions. Dr. Manish Taneja also has extensive experience in performing all vascular interventions, non-vascular interventions and interventional oncology procedures.

Read More About Vascular Treatments on Our Blog

To dive deeper into the types of vascular treatments such as thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation, head over to our clinic’s blog.  Read our recommended vascular treatments related blog posts to stay informed.

Thyroid Nodule Resources

How to Keep Thyroid Healthy for Optimal Well-Being

As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid hormones must be perfectly balanced at all times for the body to function normally.

Woman holding and using megaphone

Caring For Your Thyroid Health

Have you ever experienced difficulty swallowing or breathing? You may have risk factors including a family history of thyroid nodules or iodine deficiency. Thyroid nodules are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located below your voice box. Even if most thyroid nodules are benign, 10-15% of nodules are cancerous. Sometimes overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue can lead to hyperthyroidism. In other cases, multiple nodules can form in the thyroid called multinodular goiter. Fluid filled thyroid cysts can be one type of thyroid nodule within the thyroid. More complex nodules may lead to thyroid cancers. Depending on the root cause and type of nodule you have, patients can monitor with regular ultrasound or even have a thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAC) if required. Surgery to remove partial or whole thyroid gland can be done but thanks to minimally invasive treatments such as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), this procedure can treat noncancerous and cancerous thyroid lumps.

Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer

Watch our video guide and find out more on our blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer” with the types, causes, evaluation, biopsy, treatment options, and when to see a thyroid specialist. Find answers to questions on whether thyroid nodules are cancerous or not.

Arrange Your Appointment

Consult Vascular Specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and pain management. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our thyroid nodule specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.