Posted on January 26, 2021
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the base of the neck, right below the Adam’s apple, that produces hormones affecting how well every cell, tissue, and organ in your body works. These hormones regulate vital body functions, including
- Heart rate
- Nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
Thyroid disease facts:
- Anyone can be affected by thyroid dysfunction
- One in eight Americans will experience some level of thyroid disease in their lifetime, but up to 60% will be unaware of it
- Women are 10% more likely than men to have thyroid problems
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease may lead to other serious conditions
- Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions and can be managed with medical attention
Thyroid disease types
- Hypothyroidism = under production of thyroid hormone (this is the most common disorder)
- Hyperthyroidism = over production of thyroid hormone
- Thyroid nodules = a lump in the thyroid
- Goiter = abnormal enlargement of the thyroid
- Thyroiditis = inflammation of the thyroid
- Hashimoto’s/Grave’s diseases = immune system attack of the thyroid
- Thyroid cancer = cancer of the thyroid
Dysfunction occurs when the thyroid produces either too much or too little thyroid hormone. Either can disrupt healthy functioning of vital organs leading to a wide range of symptoms like weight gain/loss; restlessness or tiredness; dry, coarse skin and brittle hair; intolerance to cold or heat; changes in menstrual pattern; changes to bowel habits; sleep disturbances; enlarged thyroid gland; difficulty swallowing; depression; muscle weakness; impaired memory; irregular heart rate; and/or hoarse voice, among others.
Early and accurate diagnosis of thyroid disorders can be a difficult task as in most cases the symptoms develop slowly, often over several years. Also symptoms can vary widely and can often be confused with other medical conditions or the stresses of life.
Diagnosis is the key! If you have unexplained symptoms like those mentioned above, see your doctor for a simple blood test to determine if thyroid treatment is required. An early diagnosis for thyroid dysfunction can help to avoid additional health complications. Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for other health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.
The good news? Once diagnosed and treated for a thyroid disorder, it’s entirely possible to live a normal, healthy life.