It is amazing how something so small can have such a large impact on our body. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located just below the Adam's apple. Your thyroid gland produces hormones that influence almost all of the body's metabolic processes and are essential for normal brain and growth development.
An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and more than half are undiagnosed, according to the American Thyroid Association. Women are 10 times more likely to have a thyroid disorder than men.
If you have thyroid cancer, most respond to treatment, although a small percentage can be very aggressive.
If you suspect something may be wrong with your thyroid, the best way to "check your neck" is to swallow water while watching your neck in the mirror. If you see a bump or enlargement on either side of the middle of you neck while you swallow, you should have a formal checkup with your physician. The next step may be an ultrasound. People who have a family history of thyroid cancer or have had exposure to radiation are at higher risk over their lifetime for thyroid cancer.
To help understand thyroid conditions more, here is a list of symptoms that can help you realize if your thyroid is haywire:
• Feeling exhausted
• Decreased appetite
• Experiencing anxiety and/or jitteriness
• High cholesterol
• Muscle aches
• Feeling your heart race or having an irregular heartbeat
• Dry skin
• Weight gain or unexplained weight loss
• Change of your typical bowel movements
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• High blood pressure
• Feeling abnormally warm or cold
• Swollen neck
• Difficulty swallowing
• Hoarse voice
• Difficulty sleeping
• Coarse hair or hair loss
• Difficulties conceiving
These are the most common types of thyroid conditions:
• Hyperthyroidism: When your thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone.
• Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
• Goiter: A thyroid gland that is too large.
If you think you have many of these symptoms, talk with your doctor to further explore your next steps to assess if you have a thyroid condition.