All about thyroid disease

Endocrinologist testing a thyroid

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, which helps raise awareness of thyroid disease. Some experts have estimated that as many as 59 million Americans have thyroid issues—and many are undiagnosed and therefore untreated.

What is the thyroid?

It’s a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. It produces hormones that deliver oxygen and energy to the rest of your body’s cells.

What are the types of thyroid disease?

Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid is underactive, while hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive. The thyroid can also become enlarged (this condition is called goiter). In some cases, the thyroid can develop lumps that are cancerous—thyroid cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the United States.

What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?

Depending on the specific kind of thyroid problem, symptoms can range from fatigue, depression, weight gain and hair loss (in the case of hypothyroidism) to an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and rapid weight loss (in the case of hyperthyroidism). There are many other symptoms of thyroid issues, too, and all of these symptoms are also symptoms of other conditions, so the best practice would be if you notice any new, strange symptoms and/or just don’t feel well, go to your doctor for a checkup. Your primary care physician can run tests to check for thyroid disease and/or many other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

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