ZocdocAnswersWhy is my thyroid swollen?

Question

Why is my thyroid swollen?

I am a 35 year old woman who has four children. I can not lose weight, am often tired, and am plagued by a constantly swollen thyroid gland that aches in my neck. Blood tests have shown normal numbers except my thyroid antibodies which are off the chart.

Answer

Your symptoms of a swollen thyroid gland and elevated thyroid antibodies can certainly be consistent with a primary thyroid disorder. Given these two findings alone, I would seek consultation with an endocrinologist, who specializes in disorders of the endocrine system such as thyroid dysfunction. The main blood screening test that is used in diagnosing thyroid dysfunction is the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). If this has been tested and was normal, then it may be worth repeating the test a few weeks later. Women that have positive thyroid antibodies (assuming you mean anti-thyroid peroxidase or anti-TPO antibodies) are often diagnosed with underactive thyroid function and often require treatment to bring their levels back into the normal range. Your symptoms of enlarged goiter, fatigue and inability to lose weight could all be consistent with an underactive thyroid. You note that you have had four children. In the year after delivery, women can also develop post-partum thyroid disease, which can often cause elevated thyroid function, low thyroid function, or both. If your TSH was normal and you do in fact have an enlarged thyroid and high anti-thyroid antibody levels, it is conceivable that your blood may have been checked as you were transitioning from hyper to hypo-thyroid states (producing a normal thyroid level). In this case, a repeat blood test may show a different result.

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