January is National Thyroid Awareness month, and it’s a great time to learn more about this very important part of your body and all it does to keep you healthy. More than 20 million Americans struggle with thyroid disease, and it’s expected that up to 60% of them aren’t even aware of it.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ in your neck, releases hormones that control metabolism, which is the way your body processes energy. As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid functioning correctly is critical to a healthy body.
Many people don’t realize how important the thyroid is to a number of important bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles and so much more.
There are a number of conditions that may impact how well your thyroid functions, and therefore your quality of life. If your thyroid creates too much of the thyroid hormone, you may have hyperthyroidism. If your thyroid creates too little of the thyroid hormone, you may have hypothyroidism. While these are the most common of the issues you may face with your thyroid, there are a few other common conditions you should be familiar with:
With so many potential issues keep in mind, you may be wondering what symptoms to keep an eye out for. Our team has pulled together the most common for you to keep an eye on. If you suffer from fatigue, depression, rapid weight loss or gain, irritability, problems with sleeping too much or too little, or thinning hair, you may have an issue with your thyroid. We recommend reaching out to your doctor to request routine thyroid testing to rule out any issues.
Even in the absence of consistent symptoms, you can take steps today to protect your thyroid health. Consider what you are eating, and be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, Brazil nuts in moderation, whole grains and seafood. Doctors recommend taking inspiration from the Mediterranean diet when planning meals. On the contrary, be cautious of consuming too much processed food, high fructose corn syrup and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and kale.
Limit the stressors in your life is another important aspect of supporting a healthy thyroid. There are studies that show stress can cause your thyroid to slow down in function. Of course, getting plenty of sleep, drinking an adequate amount of water, exercising regularly and having frequent checkups with your doctor all contribute to a healthy, balanced life.
Science Care donors continually play a key role in scientific advancements intended to improve thyroid health. Our donor community has contributed to numerous recent projects aimed at enhancing quality of life through advancing the means by which thyroid health is maintained or improved.
A university hospital studied the impact of thyroid nodules on the functionality of the vagus nerve due to the thyroid's proximity to the nerve itself. It is theorized that an enlarged, inflamed or bulging thyroid can have a negative impact on the functionality of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls various functions of the body, including the effectiveness of the immune system, heart rate, and overall digestive health.
If you are interested in learning more about thyroid health, check out our blog on the 5 signs you may have a thyroid problem.