Thyroid Awareness Month is observed in January. With better awareness, people will know when to talk to their doctors about testing and treatment.

The thyroid is a small gland responsible for producing hormones that play a crucial role in many of the body’s systems. Dysfunction occurs when the thyroid produces either too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness, trouble sleeping, weight loss, enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter, experiencing irregular menstrual periods, sensitivity to heat. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include fatigue, weight gain, frequent and heavy menstrual periods, dry and coarse hair.

Women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid problems and 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime. 50% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.

The good news is thyroid conditions are all treatable. When diagnosing thyroid diseases, doctors use the patient’s medical history, a physical exam, and specialized blood tests. Awareness is key to helping people recognize the symptoms of thyroid problems.

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