January is Thyroid Awareness Month

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, which means that it’s time to talk about the importance of thyroid health. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that serves in many ways to keep the body functioning properly, by secreting a number of hormones that regulate growth and development, body temperature, and metabolism. When the thyroid is not functioning properly, it can cause serious problems throughout the body, including a number of symptoms that can make daily life painful and difficult.

The two main types of disorders are hyperthyroidism (the overproduction of hormones), and hypothyroidism (underproduction of hormones), which both can have a variety of effects on the body. Hyperthyroidism, sometimes referred to as an overactive thyroid, can cause severe weight loss, increased heartbeat or arrhythmia, weakness and fatigue, as well as anxiety and trouble sleeping. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid can have the inverse effects, causing weight gains, fatigue, reduced heart rate, and depression.

Other common diseases associated with the thyroid are Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, goiter, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Most of these can be diagnosed with a blood test to determine the hormone levels in the thyroid, and most are treatable, if not curable. But the problem is that the symptoms of thyroid disease are often disparate and hard to place, so many people have trouble pinpointing the source of the pain, discomfort, emotional distress, and weight gain / loss. The American Thyroid Association reports that there are 20 million people living with some form of thyroid disease in the United States, yet around half of those cases go undiagnosed or untreated.

This is why it’s so important to raise awareness about the symptoms involved with thyroid disease, to encourage anyone suffering from them to talk to their doctor about getting tested. Many of the diseases can be treated, allowing patients to take control back of their lives. Look out for #ThyroidAwarenessMonth across social media, as those suffering with thyroid disease share their stories and journeys towards living happy, healthy lives.

Written by Olivia Murphy

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