January is Thyroid Awareness month, so it only seems fitting that I take some time to spread some knowledge.
The Thyroid Gland is a small butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It influences the functioning of many of our important organs including the heart, brain, kidney, liver, and skin. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that influence your metabolism and body temperature. Any abnormalities of the thyroid gland and the level of hormones produced by it can cause various health problems. The most common thyroid problems are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer. In short, a healthy thyroid is very much necessary for a healthy body.
Thyroid Conditions (Taken from WebMD)
- Goiter: A general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.
- Hyperthyroidism: Excessive thyroid hormone production. Hyperthyroidism is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule.
- Hypothyroidism: Low production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid damage caused by autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism .
- Graves disease: An autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is overstimulated, causing hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroid cancer: An uncommon form of cancer, thyroid cancer is usually curable. Surgery, radiation, and hormone treatments may be used to treat thyroid cancer.
- Thyroid nodule: A small abnormal mass or lump in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common. Few are cancerous. They may secrete excess hormones, causing hyperthyroidism, or cause no problems.
- Thyroid storm: A rare form of hyperthyroidism in which extremely high thyroid hormone levels cause severe illness.
CHECK YOUR NECK!
You can perform a simple exam to help with early detection. You can simply feel around the base of the neck for any lumps or swelling and/or stand in front of a mirror, take a sip of water and swallow feeling and looking for enlargement of the neck.
I’ve mentioned that I suffer from a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which also makes me hypothyroid. When I was first diagnosed, I had a pretty sizable goiter. After 6 months of hormone replacement and my lifestyle changes, I am ECSTATIC to report that my goiter is GONE! I had an appointment last Friday, and my endocrinologist said, “You are an example of a well treated thyroid patient.”