Learn more about the thyroid gland & how it affects your health

January is here, bringing new year goals and opportunities. However, one of your biggest goals this month should be to check your thyroid health. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), more than 12% of the U.S population alone will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition, and women are five to eight times more likely than men to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.

Like a small, somewhat fragile butterfly, the thyroid gland lies at the base of the neck and has a crucial role in the wellbeing of our body and mind.

The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones, which secrete into the bloodstream and helps regulate your:

  • Metabolism
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Bone density
  • Bodyweight
  • Heart rate
  • Skin dryness
  • Muscle strength, and your
  • Endocrine system

Thyroid issues can often be undetected and can be detrimental to your health. There are multiple thyroid disorders, but the most common are hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when the thyroid is more active than average, producing too much of the thyroid hormones.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating or heat intolerance
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Light or absent menstrual periods
  • Exophthalmos (bulging or protruding eyeballs)
  • Goiter (irregular growth of the thyroid gland)

Depending on the cause, treatment options for hyperthyroidism can include antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, and surgery. 

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) means that the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Heavier than normal menstrual periods
  • Forgetfulness and depression
  • Constipation and weight gain
  • Intolerance to the cold
  • Voice changes
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Goiter

For hypothyroidism, the treatment option would be thyroid replacement hormones.

Another type of thyroid disorder is thyroid cancer. Symptoms may include a lump or swelling on the side of the neck (most common), trouble breathing and swallowing, and a hoarse voice.

Be sure to get your thyroid gland functions checked with blood tests: 

Besides doing yearly check-ups with your primary doctor to keep any issues at bay, a thyroid neck check can be done at home. If you or your loved ones notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, please take note and help spread this information!

To learn more about what the Thyroid Gland is, the symptoms of a TG disorder, and how to prevent and reduce your risk of Thyroid Cancer, visit the CDC website

Furthermore, you can help by donating to research facilities of your choice and keeping current with all health information. So start the year by putting your health first with the help of Abarca, and join in our efforts to bring better care to our communities.

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*This blog post was written by Michelle Morales, Clinical Services Support Manager at Abarca Health.

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