January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Understanding your thyroid is important because so many critical processes inside your body rely on that tiny gland. Did you know that the thyroid has an effect on almost every metabolic process that occurs in your body? It’s true!
What is a thyroid, anyway? The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front of the neck. It is located above the collarbones, but below the larynx (also called a voice box). A well functioning thyroid makes hormones that help control the function of your brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and even your skin. Knowing what symptoms to look for, and working with your healthcare provider to ensure that your thyroid gland is healthy, is important to your overall health and well-being.
Symptoms to be on the lookout for: When the thyroid is working correctly it receives signals from the brain to turn iodine from foods into hormones and sends those hormones throughout your body to keep it functioning smoothly. If your thyroid overworks and makes too much of the necessary hormones it results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include*:
- An enlargement of the thyroid (commonly called a goiter)
- Fast heart rate, irregular heart rate, trembling hands
- Becoming anxious, irritable, argumentative
- Weight loss, even when eating the same amount as usual (or more)
- Not able to tolerate warm temperatures, increased perspiration
- Prominent “stare” of the eyes; also protrusion of the eyes
If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the hormones your body needs the condition is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include*:
- Pervasive fatigue and drowsiness
- Weight gain and fluid retention
- Difficulty learning
- Dry hair, nails, and skin
- Puffy face
- Sore muscles
What to do? It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have thyroid disorders and about half of those have not been diagnosed. Are you one of the 15 million people with an untreated thyroid condition? If you think it’s possible, talk to us here at Rejuv Medical Louisville. There are simple blood tests that can done to determine your thyroid levels, and most thyroid conditions are easily treated. You can also perform a self-exam at home:
How to Perform a Thyroid Neck Self-Exam:
- Use a mirror and focus on the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the Adam’s apple (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.
- While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.
- Take a drink of water and swallow.
- As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times.
- If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed.
Facts About Thyroid Disease
- Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid and hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid.
- Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: rapid weight loss, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism are: weak or slow heartbeat; muscular weakness; constant fatigue; weight gain; depression; slow reflexes; sensitivity to cold; thick, puffy, or dry skin; slowed mental processes and poor memory; and constipation.
- Goiter is another thyroid condition that causes a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, often causing difficulty swallowing or breathing.
- Thyroid cancer, the fifth most common cancer in women, is the fastest growing number of new cases among all cancers in both men and women due to the increased detection.
- Expert Available for Interview or Appointment: John R. Baird, MD, CEO and Medical Director of Rejuv Medical Louisville
Get educated by visiting http://rejuvmedicalky.com/thyroid-disorders/, THEN call (502) 785-4780 to schedule an appointment with Dr. John R. Baird to get your thyroid checked . . . it’s fast, easy, and painless!
Did you know?
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology debuted the blue paisley ribbon in 2012 as a symbol to unify thyroid awareness efforts. Paisley was chosen because of its resemblance to a cross section of thyroid follicles, the tiny spheres that the thyroid gland is made up of.
*From EmPowerYourHealth.org a site provided by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) in conjunction with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).