Why is Thyroid Health so Important?

January 2, 2024

butterfly-1Your thyroid is a small gland that is shaped like a butterfly, but if it’s not functioning correctly, it can sting like a bee.

Sitting in the middle of the neck below your Adam’s apple, the thyroid gland produces a hormone to regulate your body’s metabolism and impacts every cell, tissue, and organ in your body — including energy level, heart rate, and kidney function.  

Who suffers from thyroid disease?  

Women are much more likely to have a thyroid disease than men, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), but it’s estimated that 20 million Americans have some form, and many are unaware of their condition. Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put you at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.

What does thyroid disease feel like?

Symptoms of thyroid disease can vary, and while you may be familiar with the terms hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, you may not know the difference. How each impacts the body is distinct.

  • Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms typically include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and some weight gain.

    A common form of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; an autoimmune disorder, it can cause inflammation and enlargement of the thyroid gland that may also cause neck discomfort or difficulty swallowing.

    In pregnant women, an undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism can cause an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.

  • Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms often include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation.

    Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism that is a genetic autoimmune disorder; it is the only kind of hyperthyroidism that can be associated with inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the tissues around the eyes and bulging of the eyes, says the ATA.

What if I think my thyroid gland is not doing its job?

You know your body best, and when something doesn’t feel right, it merits a conversation with your primary care doctor. He or she can discuss your concerns and in the case of thyroid issues, may order specific screenings as part of your checkup. A simple blood test can often identify when something’s amiss with your thyroid function and determine if further testing is needed.

Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention.

In rare cases, about 1% of the people in the US are diagnosed with thyroid cancer. All are treatable, even at advanced stages.

The Bottom Line

While getting a new diagnosis can be stressful, if you are experiencing symptoms or have a family history of thyroid disease, raise your concerns with your primary care doctor to help ensure you can be your best self. The staff at Lane Family Practice is here to help you determine your thyroid health, as well as your other general health needs.

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