The thyroid is a glandular organ that has three major anatomical parts: a left lobe, a right lobe, and a region known as the isthmus connecting the two, forming a butterfly-like shape. It’s located in the neck, near the voice box and windpipe. The gland’s main function is to produce two important hormones called T3 and T4, which influence our basal metabolic rate–in other words, how much energy we use up at rest. The hormones are also involved in the fetal and childhood development of tissues and the nervous system, as well as the making of proteins. Additionally, they have complicated relationships with our reproductive hormones, so much so that imbalances in them can affect our sex drive, fertility, and other reproductive behaviors.
Thyroid disorders tend to stem from thyroid hormones being produced in too high or low quantities, and can have a variety of different symptoms. So what could pain in the thyroid possibly mean?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most probable culprit behind pain in the thyroid is acute thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid gland that occurs over the course of a few days. Extremely rare, acute thyroiditis is caused by bacteria and leads to intense pain in the thyroid region that’s accompanied by a high fever. Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics, but you may need surgery to remove the part of your thyroid that’s infected.
Another type of thyroiditis is known as subacute thyroiditis; it unfolds over a period of a few weeks and is generally caused by a virus. Its symptoms include pain behind the ear and in the jaw as well as a low-grade fever.
A final type of thyroiditis is known as chronic thyroiditis; it’s also referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Its underlying culprit is an autoimmune process that activates the white blood cells, which in turn begin attacking the body’s thyroid cells. The thyroid will then produce new cells in an attempt to survive this attack but will eventually fail. Once you reach this point, you’ll need to be on thyroid hormone treatments for the rest of their life.
It’s important you see a doctor as soon as you notice any pain in your thyroid.
The Ezra full-body scan could find cancerous or other actionable states in your thyroid. You can learn more about our screening options here.