Because January is Thyroid Awareness Month, we wanted to take the time to educate you about thyroid health. According to the American Thyroid Association, it’s estimated that nearly 20 million people in the U.S. have some form of thyroid disease, but many haven’t been diagnosed.
With thyroid disease impacting nearly 12% of Americans, it’s important to know about the risk factors and symptoms.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that’s located in the base of the neck right below the Adam’s apple. It releases hormones that control metabolism (the way your body uses energy). Even though it’s small, the thyroid plays a major role in the body, influencing the function of many vital organs, like the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.
Are you at risk for thyroid disease?
Many factors contribute to the risk of developing thyroid disease or thyroid conditions. Here are some of the key risk factors:
- Being a woman
- Age 50 or older
- Previous thyroid issues
- A family history of thyroid disease
- Exposure to radiation and/or Iodine
- Tobacco use
What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?
Sometimes you may not notice the symptoms because they can develop over years.
Symptoms for Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) may include:
- Always feeling cold
- Chronic constipation
- Muscle weakness or joint pain
- Weight gain (even though you aren’t eating more)
- Dry, thinning hair
Symptoms for Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may include:
- Always feeling hot
- Diarrhea or more bowel movements than usual
- Feeling nervous or anxious
- Weight loss (even though your diet hasn’t changed)
- Increased sweating
If you think you may be suffering from a thyroid condition, please consult your doctor.
For more information about thyroid health, visit the American Thyroid Association website.