The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning on Nov. 28 for anyone taking supplements that include biotin. While this vitamin is commonly taken to promote skin health, hair growth, and nail growth, it’s causing a serious problem when it comes to blood tests. Biotin has been found to interact with chemicals in the blood, making them appear as higher or lower than they actually are in blood tests. This has the potential to cause healthcare providers to overlook conditions that patients may be at risk for developing, especially those related to heart and thyroid diseases.

Thyroid Disease and Diagnosis
Thyroid diseases are very common, with the American Thyroid Associated estimating about 20 million Americans having some sort of thyroid disease. The most common thyroid disorders are:

  • Hyperthyroidism: an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include protrusion of the eyeballs, goiters, a fast heart rate, increased bowel movements, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, high blood pressure, and nervousness.
  • Hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid gland. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include fatigue, depression, weight gain, hair loss, hearing loss, constipation, and hoarseness.
  • Goiter: thyroid enlargement due to over-activity.

Those who are more prone to develop thyroid diseases or disorders are patients with a family history of thyroid cancer or who had radiation therapy to the head or neck for tonsil and adenoids or other reasons as children.

An ear nose and throat doctor will typically diagnose a thyroid function abnormality by looking at a patient’s medical history and conducting a physical examination. Additionally, blood tests and imaging studies may be necessary. Tests an ENT doctor may order include:

  • Evaluation with a mirror of fiberoptic telescope of the larynx/vocal cords
  • Blood tests of thyroid function
  • An ultrasound examination of the neck and thyroid
  • A fine-needle aspiration biopsy
  • A chest x-ray
  • A radioactive thyroid scan
  • A MRI or CT scan

The thyroid gland if an endocrine gland that is essential to produce hormones to regulate physiological functions in the human body. These functions include metabolism, heart rate, sweating, and the amount of energy the body uses. When someone is diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, they will most likely be treated with medication, or in serious cases, have to undergo surgery.

If you are experiencing significant swelling or pain in your neck or are experiencing the symptoms listed above, contact an adult or pediatric ENT doctor for a consultation.