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Frances A. Radkey M.D.
Thyroid Awareness Month

Small gland, BIG job!

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the lower front of your neck. The thyroid’s job is to create hormones that control nearly all the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, regulate temperature, as well as keep the brain, heart and muscles functioning properly. 

When there is a problem with the thyroid, it can affect many aspects of your health. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overabundance of thyroid hormone) include:

  • Weight loss, despite increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate, heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, nervousness, and excessive perspiration
  • More frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness, trembling hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Lighter or shorter menstrual periods

The symptoms of hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) include:

  • Lethargy, slower mental processes or depression
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Constipation, heavy menstrual periods, or dry skin and hair

A few simple tests can determine whether your thyroid hormone level is within normal range. Most thyroid problems can be well-managed if properly diagnosed and treated.

For more information on the thyroid and related issues, visit: http://www.webmd.com/women/understanding-thyroid-problems-symptoms

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