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What are the common thyroid diseases?


Hyperthyroidism means you have too much thyroid hormone. This causes a range of problems for the body and these are described in our article on Graves' disease. Treatment for hyperthyroidism involves having a single dose of radioactive iodine by mouth or by injection, taking anti-thyroid tablets regularly, or surgery. Many times all three methods are appropriate, while at other times a single treatment may be the best option.


Hypothyroidism means you have too little thyroid hormone. This causes many tissues to function abnormally. See our article on Hashimoto's disease. Hypothyroidism is common and the onset can be very slow so that you can have hypothyroidism for a number of years before it is recognised and treated. Treatment for all types of hypothyroidism is usually straightforward and involves taking tablets of thyroid hormone regularly.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is fairly uncommon. Most people who have thyroid cancer have excellent chances of surviving for a long time. For instance, in younger patients, there is a better than 95 per cent cure rate if the cancer is treated appropriately.

Solitary thyroid nodule

A solitary thyroid nodule is a small lump on the thyroid gland. As many as 50 per cent of the population will have a nodule somewhere in the thyroid, however, the overwhelming majority of these nodules are harmless. Occasionally, thyroid nodules can be cancerous and need to be treated.


Thyroiditis means the thyroid gland is inflamed. Thyroiditis can have several symptoms such as fever and pain, but it can also occur as subtle findings of hypo– or hyperthyroidism.


A thyroid goitre is a dramatic enlargement of the thyroid gland. This rarely happens in developed countries. Goitres are often removed for cosmetic reasons or, more commonly, because they compress other vital structures of the neck, including the windpipe (trachea) and the tube that leads from your mouth to your stomach, the oesophagus. This compression makes it difficult to breathe and swallow.

Last Review Date: March 20, 2017