I’m two years into my forties, and recently have started to become more and more aware of changes in my body due to the aging process. I want to age gracefully and keep my body healthy, both for myself and for my family. Part of achieving this goal is having awareness of the functions of my body and getting screenings and tests done as needed. This includes my yearly visit to my OB/GYN, a yearly mammogram, and paying attention to anything that seems “off” about my health. I recently learned that my thyroid is something that can affect my health significantly, and that I need to be paying attention to this part of my body.
January Is Thyroid Awareness Month. Raising awareness is important because it plays a significant role in the human body. According to the American Thyroid Association, 1 in 10 people suffer from a thyroid disorder. At least 1 in 8 women will develop a disorder during their lifetime. Additionally, more than half of the people in America that suffer from a thyroid disorder are undiagnosed. Many are misdiagnosed, unaware, and lack information on all the effects and importance of our thyroids in the balance of our hormones and entire body.
The thyroid gland is a small organ that’s located in the front of the neck and is part of the endocrine system. It releases hormones that control metabolism—the way your body uses energy. The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions, including:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
- Much more!
Know the Signs of Potential Problems
Because this organ plays such an important role in your overall health, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of thyroid problems. Symptoms can include fatigue, weight gain or loss, high or low heart rate, and increased sensitivity to heat and cold. The symptoms can be variable and non-specific, so the only way to definitively diagnose a thyroid condition is with a simple blood test. You’ll need to speak with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis as well as a treatment plan.
Problems begin to occur when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone or not enough. There are several illnesses and diseases related to the organ, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, goiter, and thyroid cancer.
Thyroid disease can affect anyone — men, women, infants, teenagers, and the elderly. It can be present at birth, and it can develop as you age. Although most cases are mild, thyroid hormones are vital to our body because of how they influence how all other bodily cells, tissues, and organ function. The good news is, once a condition is identified, it can be successfully treated, and patients can resume a healthy lifestyle without restrictions.
As a busy mom, it’s difficult to always make my own health a priority. However, it’s so important to be aware of things like my thyroid and the part they play in my body’s functioning. I’m so thankful for the wealth of information available so that I can take action as soon as any problems begin.
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