January is Thyroid Awareness Month!

Getting to know your thyroid:

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple.

The thyroid’s main function is production of hormones.  These hormones, which are released in the bloodstream, have several functions such as regulating metabolism and increasing utilization of cholesterol, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  Thyroid hormones are also very important for cellular activity and the stimulation of heart muscles, nerves and brain.

Top Ten Thyroid Facts You Should Know:

  1. As many as 30 million Americans may be affected by thyroid disorders, although more than half remain undiagnosed.
  2. Thyroid disorders are more common amongst women.
  3. Thyroid disorders tend to run in families.
  4. Fatigue is a common complaint for under and overactive thyroid conditions.
  5. TSH testing is the most useful test for thyroid screening.
  6. Regular check-ups are the key to successfully managing a malfunctioning thyroid gland.
  7. Changing formulations and dosage that affect thyroid hormone levels should be followed by retesting.
  8. Do not change your dose of thyroid medication without guidance from your physician.
  9. Thyroid conditions in pregnancy warrant close attention.
  10. Thyroid cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in America and one of the most curable.

This is a subject that I am all too familiar with.  When I was a preteen I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis–an autoimmune condition where the body produces immune cells which can damage thyroid cells and compromise their ability to make thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism occurs if the amount of thyroid hormone, which can be produced, is not enough for the body’s needs.

I have been on thyroid replacement medication most of my life.  The most common symptom I have experienced as a result of this disease is fatigue.  I have a wonderful primary care physician who is working with me to work towards lowering the dose of (or eliminating the need for) my medication through diet (think no sugar or refined foods) and adding in supplements like iodine to support the thyroid.  Acupuncture is another wonderful way to support the endocrine system naturally.

The best way you can support Thyroid Awareness Month is to do a ‘neck check’ on yourself.  If you see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed.

Here is to good thyroid health!