Do you feel off lately, like your body is changing in small but frustrating ways? Do you notice a difference in your energy level, mood and weight?
Don't just chalk up these symptoms to the stress of your endless to-do list. Instead, add something to that list – make a doctor's appointment. Because you may be one of 20 million Americans who has thyroid disease.
Although a simple blood test is all that's needed to find out if you have thyroid disease, up to 60 percent of people go undiagnosed, according to the American Thyroid Association. Because symptoms of a thyroid condition are wide-ranging and vague, they're often mistaken for signs of aging or stress.
The thyroid plays a crucial role in metabolism and the functioning of the brain, heart and other vital organs – so having a thyroid problem affects how you function daily. Learn how to spot the signs of thyroid disease.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck under your voice box. It creates hormones that help regulate your body temperature, energy level and heart rate as well as growth in children.
Thyroid problems are common, affecting up to an estimated 20 million Americans. There are three types of thyroid issues that can occur:
When the thyroid overproduces hormones, it's called hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid is often caused by Grave's disease, an autoimmune disorder in which your body mistakenly attacks the thyroid.
Having too much thyroid hormone in your bloodstream can speed up body processes and have wide-ranging effects. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones. Hashimoto's disease – an autoimmune disorder that reduces the thyroid's ability to produce hormones – is frequently the cause of hypothyroidism.
The lack of thyroid hormones creates an imbalance that results in general and vague symptoms throughout the body, such as:
Abnormal thyroid growth can affect the functioning of the thyroid gland, too:
A thyroid problem can happen to anyone. But women are five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid disease. Other risk factors of a thyroid condition include:
If you experience signs of a thyroid condition, it's important to talk to your doctor. Keep a list of symptoms and possible risk factors to discuss at your appointment.
To find a specialist or for a second opinion, search our physician directory for an endocrinologist.