Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone controls many of the body’s functions, such as heart rate and how fast calories are burned. Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone. Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, it can cause you to feel restless or tired, or cause you to lose or gain weight. Common types of thyroid disease include thyroid nodules, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Graves’ disease, goiters, thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially after pregnancy and after menopause. Thyroid diseases usually are treatable, but they can cause serious problems in other parts of the body if left untreated. Treatment varies depending on the type of thyroid disease, but it can include medication, radioactive iodine therapy, or thyroid surgery.

The UAB Medicine Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism is consistently ranked among the top programs of its kind in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Its comprehensive care team includes endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, oncologists, and other specialists who coordinate their expertise to provide personalized care for both adult and pediatric patients. It works closely with many other UAB Medicine departments and divisions, such as Surgery, Ophthalmology, Radiology, Reproductive Endocrinology, Otolaryngology (ENT), and other key areas. This collaboration helps ensure the most effective care for patients, including outpatient treatments and surgical intervention, when necessary.

UAB surgeons participate in more than 800 endocrine cases each year, and they have the experience and expertise to handle even the most complex cases. Minimally invasive, outpatient surgical treatment procedures are available for many endocrine disorders, allowing for smaller incisions, faster recovery, and less pain in many cases when compared to traditional surgery. Our surgical team has more experience treating hyperparathyroidism using minimally invasive radio-guided parathyroidectomy (MIRP) than most other medical centers in the world.

Patients with diabetes are managed by the UAB Multidisciplinary Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic. It combines the knowledge and compassion of UAB Medicine’s top specialists in a single comprehensive clinic, so patients can see several providers in one day, including an endocrinologist, ophthalmologist, orthopaedic surgeon, nutritionist, social worker, and other experts as needed. The clinic is an arm of the UAB Medicine Comprehensive Diabetes Center, which is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as one of only a handful of diabetes research and training centers in the country.

UAB is a major research center, so faculty are engaged in advanced basic and clinical studies sponsored by organizations such as the NIH, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the American Diabetes Association. Having such an active research program.

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