According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), “An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, but up to 60 percent of those affected are not aware that the symptoms they are experiencing can be treated.”
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland located in the lower front of the neck. This small but mighty gland is thought to be the most important endocrine organ in the body as it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.
The ATA explains the role of the thyroid; “The role of the thyroid is to make thyroid hormones. These hormones are secreted into the blood and then carried throughout the body. The Thyroid controls the body’s metabolism, increases heart rate, and affects how fast things move through the body such as food, bone loss and sugar.”
What is the Impact of Thyroid Diseases and Disorders?
Problems with the thyroid can include Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, and Graves Disease. Thyroid diseases that go undiagnosed can lead to serious conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, infertility, increased risk of miscarriage, and severe developmental problems in children.
- Hypothyroidism: the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and some weight gain.
- Hyperthyroidism: the gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation.
- Graves’ disease: an autoimmune disorder (and type of Hyperthyroidism) that is genetic and estimated to affect one percent of the population.
Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention, but to get the medical attention needed, a greater awareness about thyroid problems, diseases, and their treatments needs to be promoted among friends, family members, and the communities we live in.
Start today building your own thyroid awareness by reading the articles or visiting the websites shared below.
A Case for Support by the American Thyroid Association : https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/support/ata-case-for-support-2017.pdf
St. Johns Cancer Institute: Thyroid Awareness Month https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/blog/endocrine/january-is-thyroid-awareness-month/ and webinar: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/about-us/webinars/the-butterfly-in-your-neck/