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Your thyroid may be small, but it has a massive effect on your body

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month

Tired man leaning on table.
Tired man leaning on table.

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It’s hard to believe something so small could have such a dramatic effect on the body, but that is the case with your thyroid.

A butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck, the thyroid is essential for a healthy, functioning body.

In honor of January being National Thyroid Awareness Month, here are some things to know about your thyroid.

Why is your thyroid so important?

Your thyroid produces hormones, called T3 and T4, that help control heart rate, body temperature and regulate the production of protein.

What are the types of problems that occur when thyroids don’t functioning properly?

The conditions are known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much T4, which can cause symptoms like weight loss, sleeping issues, nervousness, weaker muscles, feeling cold or shaking.

Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4, which can cause depression, weight gain, fatigue and forgetfulness.

How many people suffer from thyroid disease?

Estimates show that 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease, with up to 60% of those being unaware of their condition.

How are thyroid disorders diagnosed?

Blood tests, imaging tests and ultrasounds are the most common ways to determine if someone has a thyroid disease.

How are thyroid issues treated?

In most cases, thyroid disorders are not life threatening. Various medications, both over-the-counter and prescribed, can be used, depending on the severity of the disorder. Surgery is occasionally used, especially if it is to remove a goiter or nodule within the gland.

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