Thyroid Awareness

By Guest Editor on Jan 6, 2016

January is Thyroid Awareness Month and brings our attention to a tiny gland hidden in your neck that plays a big role in your overall health! As many as 30 million Americans live with thyroid disease, and many more go undiagnosed.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland. It produces two different hormones that control everything from body temperature, weight, mood, and energy levels. The thyroid is impacted by the Pituitary gland because the Pituitary gland produces a hormone that tells the thyroid how to function. When that balance is upset, the entire body can by thrown into flux.

When the thyroid works too hard and produces too many hormones, that condition is called hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism only occurs in 1% of the United States but impacts women 5-10 times more than men. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:

  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Fast, irregular pulse
  • Tiredness
  • Hot temperature constantly

When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, that condition is called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disease because aging is one of the risk factors. Hypothyroidism symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Weight gain
  • Cold temperature constantly

Your doctor can find thyroid conditions and diseases during a routine physical or annual appointment. Your doctor can feel around the thyroid gland for any nodules that may develop. Blood tests can also be done to determine if a patient has hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Talk to your doctor about thyroid disease if you have the any of the mentioned symptoms or the following risk factors:

  • A family history of thyroid disease
  • Prescription medications such as Lithium and Amiodarone
  • Radiation therapy treatments

Out of many thyroid conditions, Thyroid cancer is quite uncommon as most nodules that develop near the thyroid are benign and do not impact thyroid function. Even if cancer does develop, the cure rate for thyroid cancer is more than 90%. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about thyroid conditions and diseases.