January marks Thyroid Awareness Month, which calls attention to medical conditions that keep your thyroid from producing the appropriate amount of hormones. The thyroid is a part of the endocrine system, which is responsible for skin integrity, menstrual cycles, calcium levels, cholesterol levels, the nervous system, and more. According to the American Thyroid Association, roughly 60% of those with thyroid diseases are unaware they suffer from any condition at all.
January Is Thyroid Awareness Month
The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland, is responsible for keeping the heart, brain, muscles, and organs working properly. To raise awareness for conditions of the thyroid during this month, Raleigh OB/GYN has outlined 4 common thyroid diseases, their causes, and treatments.
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in your neck that makes two hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream— thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much hormone thyroxine. When this occurs, many of the body’s functions speed up. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss with or without increased appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Extreme fatigue or trouble sleeping
- Shaky hands and muscle weakness
- Trouble tolerating warmer temperatures
- Frequent bowel movements
Thyroid diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, are diagnosed using blood tests and imaging tests. When the diagnosis is confirmed, hyperthyroidism is usually treated using medication, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery.
On the opposite end of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones, and your body’s functions slow down. NIH suggests roughly 5 out of 100 Americans ages 12 years or older have hypothyroidism. Common symptoms of this thyroid disorder include:
- Weight gain without surplus caloric intake
- Extreme fatigue
- Trouble tolerating cooler temperatures
- Joint and muscle pain
- Slowed heart rate
Hypothyroidism tends to develop slowly, and some symptoms may not be noticeable for months or years. Similarly to hyperthyroidism, blood tests or imaging tests will be used to confirm the diagnosis. Thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism are treated by taking medication that is identical to the hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland.
Thyroiditis is the medical term for “inflammation of the thyroid gland” and encompasses a group of individual disorders that cause thyroid inflammation. These thyroid diseases are caused by an attack on the thyroid, which directly causes inflammation and damage to the cells. According to thyroid.org, there are no symptoms unique to thyroiditis, but typical symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, depression, and difficulty exercising.
Because thyroiditis represents a group of conditions, treatment can vary. Some treatment options may include beta-blockers, thyroid hormone replacement medication, antibiotics, or surgical treatment.
Thyroid cancer is when the cells of the thyroid gland begin to grow out of control. The early stages of thyroid cancer don’t often present symptoms. Yet as it grows, you may notice neck or throat pain, a lump in your neck, difficulty swallowing, vocal changes, or a cough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, roughly 12,000 men and 33,000 women get thyroid cancer. Luckily, there are treatment options, including surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, thyroid hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy.
With the thyroid performing some of the most essential functions for the body, it can affect nearly every aspect of your overall health. From your mood to digestion and energy, your thyroid does it all. If you need more information about common thyroid diseases, or if you’re suffering from symptoms similar to any of the listed above, consult a provider at Raleigh OB/GYN. The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at our practice offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services. Visit our website to make an appointment, or call us at (919) 876-8225.