The thyroid gland serves many functions. It regulates our rate of metabolism, growth and development, and our body temperature. So when it isn’t working properly it can have a major impact on our health.
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), thyroid disease is a more common disorder than diabetes or heart disease. It affects as many as 30 million Americans, more than half of whom remain undiagnosed. To raise awareness about the thyroid gland and symptoms of thyroid disease, January has been designated Thyroid Awareness Month.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck.. Although small in size, the gland plays a large role by producing thyroid hormone which influences the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. When the thyroid gland is not producing the right amount of hormone (either too much or too little), problems can start to arise.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones. This can result in a range of symptoms that include unexplained fatigue, weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, feeling cold, hair loss, or low sex drive. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition when the body produces an abundance of thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include rapid heart rate, heat intolerance and unexplained weight loss and anxiety. For both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, medication can be prescribed to regulate hormone levels.
A more serious concern involving the thyroid gland is thyroid cancer, which can develop independent of the above thyroid disease. According to the AACE, about 60,000 cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed annually in the U.S. In most cases, thyroid cancer has a good prognosis and high survival rates—especially when diagnosed in its early stages.
Through attention raised by Thyroid Awareness Month, more and more primary care physicians are screening for thyroid disease, which has greatly helped those who would have otherwise had their condition go undiagnosed.
Flushing Hospital is proud to help raise awareness for thyroid disease and encourages everyone experiencing symptoms to ask their doctor to do an evaluation. If you do not have a doctor, call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center to make an appointment at 718-670-5486.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.