January is Thyroid Awareness Month.
The thyroid gland is an extremely important gland located in the lower part of the neck and shaped like a butterfly. It produces thyroid hormones which influence every cell, tissue, and organ in our body.
Thyroid hormone is vital in regulating the rate of the metabolism—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen. Thyroid dysfunction occurs when the thyroid produces either too little or too much thyroid hormones. If your thyroid is making too little hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism or, if it is producing too much hormone, it is called hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- extreme fatigue,
- brittle hair & nails,
- irregular or heavy periods and some weight gain.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- increased appetite,
- muscle weakness,
- unexplained weight loss,
- sleep disturbances,
- vision problems and eye irritation.
Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism; it is an autoimmune disorder that is genetic. An estimated 30 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. More than half of those with thyroid disease are undiagnosed. Women are five times more likely than men to have thyroid dysfunction. One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease can lead to high cholesterol levels leading to heart disease, osteoporosis and infertility.
- Pregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
- If you suspect that you may have a thyroid disorder consult your healthcare provider and request a simple blood test for a thyroid panel.
- The good news is that once a thyroid condition is identified it can be successfully treated and one can live a healthy lifestyle without restrictions.