Types of Thyroid Disease

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Specialized care for kids with diabetes, thyroid conditions and other endocrinology concerns. Contact us with your pediatrician’s referral.

Types of thyroid disease in children can vary widely and with differing symptoms. One thing every type of thyroid disease has in common is an imbalance in the amount of hormones provided to your child’s body.

In some types of thyroid disease, it’s too many hormones. In others, it’s too few. Fortunately, medications are available to regulate thyroid hormones, and new treatments are constantly under development.

The thyroid gland’s hormones affect nearly everything the body does, influencing heart rate, blood pressure, energy, metabolism and body temperature. The hormones produced by the thyroid also help with a child’s brain development and growth.

If your child’s pediatrician suspects your child has a type of thyroid disease, they may conduct blood tests to measure hormone levels and will likely refer your child to see a pediatric endocrinologist — a specialist in treating hormonal conditions.

If your child is referred to Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, for care, you can rest assured they will be treated by one of the best programs in the country for endocrinology and diabetes care, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Our specialist providers have experience diagnosing all types of thyroid disease in children. Treatment can vary depending on the condition and child’s age. We will work with you to create a care plan that is as unique as your child.

  • Hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid releases too many hormones into the bloodstream. This causes the body to use energy too quickly. Metabolism and other activity in the cells speed up. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
  • Hypothyroidism. If the thyroid is underactive, it doesn’t make enough hormones. The body uses energy more slowly, and activity in the cells slows down. Hashimoto thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens.
  • Congenital hypothyroidism. Some babies are born with too little thyroid hormone production. There are no outward signs of congenital hypothyroidism, however thyroid testing is among the standard screenings done on most newborns before they leave the hospital. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent irreversible neurological conditions. Delayed treatment can lead to permanent mental disabilities.
  • Goiters and thyroid nodules. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can make the thyroid larger than normal. An enlarged thyroid gland can be felt under the skin at the front of the neck. When it is large enough to see easily, it’s called a goiter. A thyroid nodule is a lump or enlarged area on the gland.
  • Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules. Also called “hot nodules,” these lumps produce thyroid hormones, similar to the thyroid gland. They can elevate the level of thyroid hormones, causing hyperthyroidism. The nodules themselves are almost always benign (not cancerous).
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2. This group of rare inherited conditions causes the thyroid to become overactive or form cancer. Also known as Sipple’s syndrome, it can cause tumors on the thyroid, adrenal or parathyroid glands. It also can affect the adrenal glands.
  • Subacute thyroiditis. This is an uncommon condition that can follow an upper respiratory infection. The thyroid becomes inflamed and can release too much hormone, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
  • Thyroid cancer. This is uncommon in children. Most children with thyroid cancer do well with treatment.

Pediatric Thyroid Care at Norton Children’s Endocrinology

  • Voted No. 23 pediatric diabetes and endocrinology program in the country by physicians in the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.
  • Once your family pediatrician makes a referral, our large team of board-certified endocrinologists and advanced practice providers can ensure you don’t have to wait long for an appointment.
  • Diagnostic testing is available at the Novak Center for Children’s Health and Norton Children’s Hospital, making imaging, lab work, nuclear medicine thyroid scans and other tests more convenient for you.
  • A multidisciplinary care team brings together specialists from other medical fields and offers comprehensive services, including genetic testing, imaging, thyroid fine-needle aspiration, biopsies, radioactive ablation and endocrine cancer surgery.
  • Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Keep up with your child’s lab results, communicate with your provider, schedule appointments and get alerted if an earlier appointment becomes available with Norton MyChart.

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