Thyroid Awareness Month
Thyroid problems are incredibly prevalent in the US today. About 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease or disorder, and about 12% of our population will develop some type of thyroid problem during their lifetime. Women are far more likely than men to develop a thyroid disorder, and most people who have thyroid issues deal with them throughout their entire lives.
January is thyroid awareness month, which is a great time for people to learn how to recognize symptoms of thyroid problems and how to combat thyroid disease.
What Is a Thyroid and What Does It Do?
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. While it is quite small, it is an integral part of your endocrine system and has a significant effect on multiple organs and bodily functions. Your thyroid utilizes iodine from your diet to make hormones that are vital to the proper function of your liver, kidneys, and brain.
The thyroid also works in conjunction with the pituitary gland to ensure that it is making the proper amount of the various hormones for the rest of the body. The hormones that the thyroid produces affect every single cell, tissue, and organ in your body, so it is incredibly important to be aware of thyroid health and ensure that any thyroid symptoms are dealt with and treated promptly and thoroughly.
Thyroid Problems and Risks
When something goes awry with your thyroid, various disorders and problems can arise. Certain diseases, medications, or other types of thyroid damage can result in problems for your entire body. Even problems with the pituitary gland or other areas of the body can result in problems with your thyroid due to their connection and dependence upon each other.
The most common thyroid problems are hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Individuals may also experience symptoms of thyroid problems without any specific diagnosis, such as nodules, swelling, or inflammation. People can also develop Grave’s disease, a type of autoimmune thyroid disorder, or thyroid cancer.
While many risks of thyroid disease are considered nonspecific and will not be immediately linked to thyroid problems, it helps to be aware of the risks to help you be as healthy as possible. Gender is a significant risk factor since women are six to eight times as likely as men to develop some sort of thyroid issue. Being over the age of 50, having a personal or family history of thyroid problems, being a smoker, having an iodine deficiency, and taking certain medications are just a few of the most common risks of developing a thyroid issue.
Thyroid awareness is key in helping people recognize the symptoms of thyroid problems and know when to talk to their doctors about seeking tests and treatment. Thyroid awareness month is every January, and it’s a way for the general public and those suffering from thyroid diseases to learn more about the prevention, treatment, and cure of thyroid-related diseases and cancer. It’s also a great way to promote excellence and innovation in research and it helps thyroid doctors and scientists make significant advancements in testing and treatments.