Coming from a cancer diagnosis myself, I must say I had no idea that there was an actual month of the year dedicated to “Thyroid Disease Awareness.” According to the ATA – American Thyroid Association, the world’s leading professional association of medical specialists dedicated to education and research to improve thyroid disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It turns out, up to 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition — and up to 60 percent of them don’t know it. The thyroid can be either overactive or underactive.
It wasn’t until my diagnosis that I learned the location and function of the thyroid as an important organ in my body. The thyroid is located in the middle of the lower neck, it is shaped like a butterfly. (That’s right this is where I got my creative idea for my brilliant logo.) The thyroid produces hormones (T3 and T4) that affect every cell in the body. These help control your body temperature and heart rate, as well as help, regulate the production of protein. If the thyroid produces too much — or too little — T3 and T4, it can create problems. Specifically, conditions such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Interestingly enough our thyroid works intensively most of the time to help us regulate our body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood, and bone maintenance. Its correct functioning depends on having a good supply of iodine from the diet, which we know many of us lack.
Here are some eye-opening facts about the thyroid:
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.
- Thyroid disease can be difficult to diagnose.
- Anxiety, depression, and insomnia can be signs of an overactive thyroid.
- Sudden weight gain and depression might be caused by an underactive thyroid.
- The thyroid is the only gland to take up and trap iodine.
- The thyroid plays a critical role in pregnancy and fetal development.
- Your thyroid and your liver have a close relationship.
As you can see this tiny butterfly-shaped organ does quite a bit in our bodies and we just can’t live without it. Thanks to technology and medical advancement there are many people that lead normal lives without their thyroids but I know many suffer severe side effects living without it. I guess it must be luck?
Here are some of the most common thyroid diseases:
- Thyroid Nodules.- A lump in the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.
- Hypothyroidism.- A condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.
- Hyperthyroidism.- The overproduction of a hormone by the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck (thyroid).
- Goiter.- Abnormal enlargement of the butterfly-shaped gland below the Adam’s apple (thyroid).
- Thyroiditis.- Inflammation of the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck.
- Thyroid cancer.- Cancer of the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.
So it is not in your head, nor there’s nothing wrong with you. Your symptoms are real, valid and you must get checked by a trained medical provider. I would strongly recommend working with your local functional medicine practitioner to help you with proper diagnoses and recommendations for your symptoms. Remember, it is all about the quality of life and we are entitled to live to the fullest. As always I would love to hear your feedback and experiences as we are all learning. My desire is to create a safe and respectful community where we can all learn from each other and walk together this journey of healing, health, and wholeness.