Thyroid Disease Awareness Month
Posted on: January 25, 2022
January is thyroid (disease) awareness month. Many people have heard of the thyroid gland and have a basic understanding of its function. However, they don’t fully understand what it does and how it affects your body. The thyroid gland plays a significant role in various systems in our bodies.
The thyroid gland is the largest gland in the neck and is situated in the front of the neck below the skin and muscle layers. This gland takes the shape of a butterfly with two ‘wings’ on either side, which are the right and left lobes. The thyroid gland's sole purpose is to create thyroid hormone, which influences all tissues of the body where it helps increase cellular activity. Which means, the function of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolism.
Common Thyroid Problems• Hyperthyroidism - This condition is characterized by the thyroid gland being overactive and creating thyroid hormone in excess. There are a variety of treatments available for an overactive thyroid gland which can include medications, radioactive iodine, and in a few cases, surgery. Other health circumstances specific to you will assist your doctor in prescribing the best route for treatment. Symptoms vary depending on the individual however, commonly noted symptoms can include shaking hands, hot flashes, swollen thyroid gland, increased metabolic rate, weight loss, weakness, nausea/vomiting, irritability, difficulty sleeping and more.
• Hypothyroidism - You may have guessed hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by the thyroid gland being underactive and not creating the proper amount of thyroid hormone your body requires. Symptoms can appear several years before diagnosis and treatment is ever given. Symptoms do vary from person to person, but some commonly noted symptoms include weight gain, dry skin, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, fatigue, puffy face, constipation, dry hair, hair loss and more.
• Solitary Thyroid Nodules - This a condition where lumps (nodules) are formed on the thyroid gland and can cause difficulty breathing and/or swallowing and sudden weight loss.
• Goiters - A common yet serious, possibly life-threatening condition which is characterized by the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. This condition can cause difficulty breathing, hoarse voice, coughing and difficulty swallowing.
• Thyroiditis - Thyroiditis is a general term which refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland. It includes a variety of individual disorders that can cause thyroid inflammation that present in different ways. For example, according to the American Thyroid Association, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. Additionally, temporary thyrotoxicosis caused by postpartum thyroiditis is a common cause of thyroid issues after the delivery of a baby. A major cause of pain in the thyroid is subacute thyroiditis which can be seen in patients taking certain medications such as amiodarone and interferon.