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What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a small organ that’s located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe (trachea). It’s shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid is a gland. You have glands throughout your body, where they create and release substances that help your body do a specific thing. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control many vital functions of your body.

When your thyroid doesn’t work properly, it can impact your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated by your healthcare provider.

What does the thyroid do?

Your thyroid has an important job to do within your body — releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism.
What is thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Using energy too quickly will do more than make you tired — it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous. On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.

These two main disorders can be caused by a variety of conditions. They can also be passed down through families (inherited).

Who is affected by thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease can affect anyone — men, women, infants, teenagers and the elderly.

You may be at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease if you:

Have a family history of thyroid disease.
Have a medical condition (these can include pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, primary adrenal insufficiency, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and Turner syndrome).
Take a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone).
Are older than 60, especially in women.
Have had treatment for a past thyroid condition or cancer (thyroidectomy or radiation).
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

What causes thyroid disease?

The two main types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both conditions can be caused by other diseases that impact the way the thyroid gland works.

Conditions that can cause hypothyroidism include:

Thyroiditis:
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
Postpartum thyroiditis:
Iodine deficiency:
A non-functioning thyroid gland: Sometimes, the thyroid gland doesn’t work correctly from birth. This affects about 1 in 4,000 newborns.
Conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism include:

Graves’ disease: In this condition the entire thyroid gland might be overactive and produce too much hormone. This problem is also called diffuse toxic goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).
Nodules: Hyperthyroidism can be caused by nodules that are overactive within the thyroid. A single nodule is called toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodule, while a gland with several nodules is called a toxic multi-nodular goiter.
Thyroiditis: This disorder can be either painful or not felt at all. In thyroiditis, the thyroid releases hormones that were stored there. This can last for a few weeks or months.
Excessive iodine:
If you have diabetes and get a positive thyroid test, there are a few things to you can do to help feel the best possible. These tips include:

Getting enough sleep.
Exercising regularly.
Watching your diet.
Taking all of your medications as directed.
Getting tested regularly as directed by your healthcare provider.
What common symptoms can happen with thyroid disease?

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include:

Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.
Having trouble sleeping.
Losing weight.
Having an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter.
Having muscle weakness and tremors.
Experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop.
Feeling sensitive to heat.
Having vision problems or eye irritation.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:

Feeling tired (fatigue).
Gaining weight.
Experiencing forgetfulness.
Having frequent and heavy menstrual periods.
Having dry and coarse hair.
Having a hoarse voice.
Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures.
Can thyroid issues make me lose my hair?

Hair loss is a symptom of thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism. If you start to experience hair loss and are concerned about it, talk to your healthcare provider.
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Health
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