Cancer

What You Need to Know About the Thyroid and Thyroid Disease

Jan 8 • 2015

Did you know that over 20 million people in the United States are under treatment for thyroid disorders? Additionally, there are approximately two million people that have a thyroid disease that has not yet been diagnosed.

Read on for quick facts about thyroid disorders:

  • When the thyroid is underactive, it does not produce enough hormones. This is called hypothyroidism. When the thyroid is overactive, it provides too much hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism.
  • Typically, women are more prone to having thyroid issues than men. As people get older, thyroid disease becomes more common.
  • The thyroid secretes thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin. T3 and T4 are responsible for metabolism and impact almost every cell within the body, while calcitonin assists in storing calcium in the body.
  • People can experience pain in the thyroid gland as the result of inflammation. This can occur after a viral infection and can be extremely painful, but the thyroid typically goes back to functioning normally after six months.
  • Thyroid nodules are very common and are typically benign, but if you notice that your thyroid has become enlarged, it is important to speak with your doctor to check for cancer.
  • Thyroid cancer makes up less than two percent of all cancers and is usually treatable. Symptoms include a lump or swelling in the neck, pain in the neck, hoarseness or vocal changes that do not go away, a constant cough not associated with a cold, or trouble swallowing or breathing.
  • Risk factors for thyroid cancer include family history, exposure to radiation, and a diet that is low in iodine.
  • Stress is also a major factor that can negatively impact the thyroid.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Share this article with loved ones to educate them about the thyroid and what factors impact the risk of thyroid disease.