The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland near the base of the neck that helps direct almost all our internal functions, from the brain to the skin. Its job is to produce tyrosine-based hormones that help regulate metabolism, fuel digestion, control cell turnover, maintain normal body temperature, and more. Our thyroids are essential to most bodily functions and keeping it working properly is key to our health. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, helping to spread awareness about the dangers of conditions like hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, and cancer.
The American Thyroid Association, the leading association of thyroid specialists, estimates 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and more than half may be unaware of their condition. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the most common, each reflective of an irregular level of activity. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that directly causes hyperthyroidism. Thyroid cancer is malignant growth on the thyroid that can significantly impair function. While there are other thyroid conditions to be aware of, these are the most common among Americans, especially women:
Hyperthyroidism – when the gland is more active than it should be, with symptoms like rapid or irregular heartbeat, weight loss or inability to gain weight with or without increase appetite, excessive perspiration, difficulty sleeping, heat sensitivity, tremors, etc.
Hypothyroidism – when the gland is not as active as it should be, with symptoms like slow or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, weight gain, stiff or swelling joints, puffiness, cold sensitivity, impaired memory, etc.
Graves’ Disease – an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, which causes it to become more active than it should be.
Thyroid Cancer – when thyroid cells mutate and become enlarged, multiplying rapidly to create a tumor that affects the gland function. Fortunately, most types of thyroid cancers respond well to treatment.
Most thyroid conditions are treatable, and early detection is extremely important to securing a better patient outcome. If you and your doctor suspect you may have a thyroid condition, blood tests, iodine tests, CT scans, and other options are available for accurate diagnostics. Your thyroid plays an important role in maintaining your health, and irregularities can significantly impact your day-to-day life.
At Roger’s Family Pharmacy, we know that prevention is key to maintaining overall health and wellness. While we do not offer thyroid testing or screening options, we strongly recommend you talk with your primary care physician regarding your thyroid health. Visit the American Thyroid Association’s website for more information. You may also consult your local pharmacist at Roger’s Family Pharmacy at (601) 582-8351 for additional information.