January is celebrated as Thyroid Awareness Month. The aim is to educate both men and women regarding thyroid health and its significance. Many people in the US are unaware of the role and function of the thyroid gland and hence, the diseases related to it go unnoticed. This can be substantiated by the fact that around 20 million people in the US have thyroid disease. In light of Thyroid Awareness Month 2023, we will be discussing the role of the thyroid gland and the diseases associated with it.
What is the Thyroid Gland and where is it Located?
The thyroid gland is an essential part of the body that is in charge of all the major processes in the body. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is located in the front of the neck. The role of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones that control the major bodily processes. It controls most of the body’s endocrinological functions including metabolism, and heart rate, and also affects how things work and move in the body. The thyroid is the most important and significant organ of the body. Disruption in the thyroid gland could lead to issues in the endocrinological functions of the body.
Did You Know?
This Thyroid Awareness Month 2023, let’s read up on some interesting facts regarding thyroid disorders.
- Thyroid issues are 5–8 times more prevalent in women than in men.
- Thyroid disorders affect 1 in 8 women throughout the course of their lifetimes.
- Thyroid issues are mostly unknown in their origin.
- Untreated thyroid dysfunction can lead to significant disorders like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and infertility.
- It’s critical that pregnant women who have thyroid issues receive appropriate diagnosis and care. Miscarriage, premature birth, and serious developmental issues in their offspring are dangers if they don’t.
- The majority of thyroid conditions are chronic and treatable with the right medical care.
- 60–70% of middle-aged women have thyroid nodules, which are fairly frequent.
- Although the majority of thyroid tumors respond to treatment, a small minority can be extremely aggressive.
Understanding Thyroid Disorders This Thyroid Awareness Month 2023
Common thyroid disorders include:
Refers to low production of thyroid hormone. It is also called underactive thyroid. The symptoms include tiredness, fatigue, brain fog, slowed metabolism, constipation, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, thin hair, irregular menstruation, slowed heart rate, and depression.
Refers to the high production of thyroid hormone. It is also called overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism speeds up bodily processes. The symptoms include rapid heartbeat, weight loss, tremors, diarrhea, etc.
It is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. It can also cause goiter.
They are small, benign growths called thyroid nodules and adenomas that develop in the layer of cells that lines the inner surface of the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone may be secreted by the adenoma itself, which could lead to hyperthyroidism. Surgery to remove the hyperactive nodule may be used in the treatment of thyroid adenoma.
The likelihood of developing thyroid cancer is higher in persons who have had exposure to radiation in the head, neck, or chest. But it can also happen to those who don’t have any identified risk factors. Papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer, and medullary thyroid cancer are the four primary subtypes of thyroid cancer. The majority of thyroid cancer cases can be fixed.
Screening Tests for Thyroid
Thyroid hormones can be measured by blood tests, but not all of them are always helpful. The tests listed below are used to assess thyroid function. This Thyroid Awareness Month 2023, we focus on what tests are important in the diagnosis of thyroid disorders.
- TSH Test: The best technique to first assess thyroid function is through TSH testing, which gauges the blood’s TSH level. Before levels get too high or too low, changes in TSH can act as an early signal.
- T4 Tests: T4 is the primary form of thyroid hormone found in blood and is measured by T4 testing. Levels assist in identifying if a patient has hyper- or hypothyroidism.
- T3 Tests: The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism can be made with T3 testing. T3 levels in hyperthyroid individuals will be higher.
- Free T3 Tests: Free T3 assays assess free T3, although they are frequently inaccurate and rarely useful.
Thyroid and Mental Health
The dysfunction of the thyroid gland results in mood changes. It significantly impacts one’s mood and mental health. With hyperthyroidism, the symptoms range from anxiety, nervousness, and irritability. Whereas the symptoms of hypothyroidism are depression and unusual tiredness. Generally, the effect of thyroid dysfunction on mental health is severe. People face concentration issues, and memory issues and often experience brain fog or reduced alertness. The aim of Thyroid Awareness Month is to help people understand the condition and learn ways to cope with the impact it has on mental health.
Thyroid Awareness Month: Managing Thyroid
Encourage friends and family to get tested.
This is very important as many people may be living with the condition but do not get tested due to various fears. If you are one who is fully aware of thyroid gland issues then you should spread awareness regarding it and the importance of getting tested.
Never ignore the symptoms.
People are usually scared of visiting doctors and finding out they have a condition. It is important to be vigilant of any bodily changes so that complications can be avoided.
Keep track of your activities.
Thyroid issues usually get triggered by stress, food, and other activities so it is vital to be vigilant of your daily habits so that they can be controlled and managed easily.
Thyroid Disorders In Women
Puberty and Menstruation:
Thyroid disorders can impact the onset of puberty and menstruation in women. The levels of thyroid hormone, high or low, can cause heavy or light periods, irregular periods, or absent periods altogether.
Over or underactive thyroid may also impact the ovulation time or it may stop ovulation from occurring at all. Additionally, there is a high risk of cyst development if a woman is suffering from hypothyroidism. Thyroid Awareness Month helps women understand their bodies and processes that are controlled by the thyroid gland so that complications can be bypassed.
Pregnancy and Postpartum:
Thyroid disorders can harm the fetus during pregnancy and may cause postpartum thyroiditis, miscarriages, preterm delivery, and stillbirth.
Thyroid disorders may cause early menopause (before the age of 40 or early 40s).
The thyroid gland controls some major processes of the body. It is essential for the health of an individual. If left untreated or undiagnosed, it may result in complications. This Thyroid Awareness Month 2023 let’s pledge to take care of our bodies and be cognizant of our actions that may interrupt or hinder the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.