Did you know that January is thyroid awareness month? Any living, breathing human owes a lot to their thyroid. Your thyroid controls a lot of important bodily functions for being such a small organ! This small gland in your neck plays a huge role in proper body functioning. The hormone your thyroid produces influences every cell, tissue, and organ in your body!
You may not realize just how much this small, butterfly-shaped gland does for you, but if you’ve ever suffered from thyroid dysfunction, then you know what a major role it plays in your overall health and wellbeing. Luckily, there’s a lot of great information about thyroids available.
This Thyroid Awareness Month, do yourself and your loved ones a favor by learning as much as you can about your thyroid and the functions it carries out for you each and every day. By building your thyroid knowledge, you may be able to avoid health complications that stem from a malfunctioning thyroid, from anxiety to a puffy face to constipation.
When it comes to thyroid disorders, the sooner you catch and begin to treat them, the better. One simple gland in your neck may not seem like it has the power to affect your whole life, but you’ll soon see that it does! Check out our infographic for the basics of thyroids and the effects they have on each and every living person.
THE ABCs of THYROIDS
What is the thyroid?
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck beneath your skin, located below the Adam's apple. It’s about 2 inches long and usually isn’t visible, except in the cases of some conditions that cause your thyroid to become enlarged.
According to Cleveland Clinic:
* Your thyroid is an important endocrine gland that makes and releases certain hormones.
* Your thyroid’s main job is to control your metabolism, or how your body uses energy.
How does the thyroid work?
According to The Times of India:
* It produces thyroid hormones called T3 and T4 under the effect of Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which is secreted from the pituitary.
* T3 and T4 act on virtually every organ of the body and maintain basal metabolic rate (BMR).
* Iodine is an essential element for normal thyroid gland function.
Thyroid diseases and conditions
Any dysfunction of the thyroid gland at the base of the neck falls into the category of thyroid disorders and diseases. When the thyroid doesn’t work properly, it affects many other bodily systems. Luckily, many thyroid conditions are both common and treatable.
Thyroid gland disorders can include:
* Hypothyroidism: underactive thyroid
* Hyperthyroidism: overactive thyroid
* Goiter: abnormal enlargement or swelling of the thyroid gland
* Thyroid gland nodules: can be benign or malignant (cancerous)
* Thyroiditis: inflammation of the thyroid
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction
Thyroid dysfunction can show up in all kinds of ways, but here are the main signs and symptoms you should look out for. The classic symptoms of thyroid disease include fluctuations in weight (gain or loss), nervousness, fatigue, and feeling hot or cold.
Sometimes, the first signs of a thyroid issue are mood changes.
When to screen for hypothyroidism:
* In children: poor height gain, delayed puberty, inattention in school, declining academic performance, or presence of goiter, vitiligo or type 1 diabetes mellitus
* In adults: non-specific feeling of fatigue, lethargy, feeling cold all the time, unexplained hair loss or weight gain, constipation, unexplained infertility, goiter, family history of hypothyroidism, and brain fog or trouble remembering things
When to screen for hyperthyroidism:
* Shakiness of hands, feeling of fast heartbeats, sweating, weight loss despite increased food intake, chronic diarrhea, increased anxiousness, lack of sleep, easy irritability, goiter, or infertility
* Periods that are light, heavy, or irregular can be symptomatic of a thyroid disorder.
Other strange signs of thyroid imbalances:
* A puffy face
* Blurry vision
* Food tastes different
Treatment options for thyroid disorders
The main treatment options for thyroid disorders, depending on the specific condition, are:
* Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
Thyroid medications include drugs like Synthroid and Thyroid. These prescription medications can be life-changing for those who rely on thyroid medication to stay regulated and healthy.
SHOCKING THYROID FACTS AND THINGS TO KNOW
According to News4Jax:
* Millions of Americans experience thyroid disorders, but up to 60 percent of them don’t even know it.
* Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
* Most thyroid diseases are chronic life-long conditions that have to be managed with medical attention but do not necessarily go away.
How common is thyroid disease and what should I do about it?
* An estimated 20 million people in the United States have some type of thyroid disorder.
* The medical specialty that deals with all thyroid issues is endocrinology.
* All newborn babies should be screened for hypothyroidism.
* Hypothyroidism can affect a person of any age and gender, though middle-aged women get a reputation for having it the most.
* Thyroid removal surgery is known as a thyroidectomy. It’s a relatively common surgery that can treat some thyroid conditions.
* You can live without your thyroid, but you’ll need to take hormone replacement medication for the rest of your life.
Can you see your thyroid?
If your thyroid is visible, get help from a medical professional!
An unhealthy thyroid can be seen under your skin while a healthy thyroid gland is not usually visible from the outside, meaning “there is no appearance of a lump on your neck, and you can’t feel it when you press your finger to the front of your neck,” according to Cleveland Clinic.
Can indoor air quality affect your thyroid?
Can the quality of the air you breathe affect your thyroid? According to research published in the Hindustan Times, yes!
“Air pollutants interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and disrupt thyroid hormone action. Air pollution particles can induce cell death and the self-destruction of tissue commonly seen in autoimmune disorders. Exposure to harmful air pollutant can lead to an imbalance or deficiency in thyroid hormones.”
How to improve indoor air quality:
* Remove shoes before walking through the home
* Open windows regularly for proper ventilation
* Dust regularly
* Check for mold
* Regularly replace air filters in the home
* Use an indoor air filter
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