January is National Thyroid Awareness Month. Almost 20 million Americans have some kind of thyroid condition. Sixty percent of those affected are completely unaware.
Thyroid conditions are more common in women than men, and The American Thyroid Association says 1 out of 8 women will develop a thyroid condition or disorder in their lifetimes.
The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in front of the windpipe above the collarbone. It secretes hormones that are integral to our breathing process, and also the regulation of our heart rate, body weight, temperature, cholesterol, and muscles.
Thyroid disease and disorders throw the metabolic-controlling functions of this critical gland out of whack. Many health issues may stem from overactive or underactive thyroids.
- Hyperthyroidism: This thyroid condition occurs when an overabundance of thyroid hormone is produced in the body, signifying an overactive gland. Essentially, it causes the body’s functions to speed up, which can lead to anxiety, nervousness, irritability, a fast heartbeat, muscle weakness, sleeplessness, tremors, sweating, thinning skin, and so much more. An increased metabolism may initially give you a boost of energy, but as the condition continues, you ultimately crash.
- Hypothyroidism: With an underactive gland, the body struggles to function with a hormone deficit. Autoimmune disease is a usual suspect for hypothyroidism. People with the condition tend to wear out quickly, are overly sensitive to cold or feel cold frequently, and suffer from depression – all side effects of the body’s normal processes slowing down and chugging along.
Awareness of thyroid conditions, their symptoms, and their potential severity is important, as early detection is the key to maintaining a long, healthy life while managing the disorder:
- Symptoms of a thyroid disorder number in the hundreds and tend to be rather broad and vague. A specific blood test is typically the best way to determine if your thyroid is the cause of your woes.
- There is currently no cure: While there is no magic bullet or cure for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, both can be treated and controlled long-term with medication like thyroxine. In some cases, surgical procedures that remove the thyroid can also offer extensive relief.
- Thyroid conditions tend to run in families. If you have tested positive for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, keep your relatives in the loop. Periodic testing can help diagnose a thyroid condition early so effective treatment can be initiated.
If you believe you, a family member, or even a friend may have a thyroid condition, a call to the doctor may be in order. Issues ranging from unexplained weight loss or gain, occasional difficulty swallowing, and cold hands and feed can be easy to ignore, but they may point to a larger problem.
Quality First Urgent Care is your trusted neighborhood walk-in clinic led by Dr. Pascal Crosley and his team of board-certified emergency medical professionals. We welcome all patients, whether you’re sick, have sustained an injury, or just feel off. Schedule a telemedicine appointment today.