January is Thyroid Awareness Month

You may have heard of the thyroid, but do you know that this gland is responsible for producing hormones that are carried to every tissue in your body? January is Thyroid Awareness Month and it is important to know what this gland does and the health conditions that can occur when your thyroid is not working properly.

What is the Thyroid Gland?

Your thyroid is a small gland located in the lower front part of your neck. This butterfly-shaped gland's job is to produce hormones that regulate the function of your heart, brain, and organs. It also plays an essential role in regulating metabolism, growth and human development. The thyroid is a part of your endocrine system, which is made up of multiple glands that are responsible for creating and secreting hormones. Your thyroid makes and releases the following hormones:

Thyroxine (T4)- This is the primary hormone made and released by your thyroid. Once released into the bloodstream it is converted to T3

Triiodothyronine (T3)- This hormone has a greater effect on your metabolism, but it is produced in a smaller amount.

Reverse triiodothyronine (RT3)- This hormone is made in very small amounts.

Calcitonin- This hormone is used to regulate calcium amounts in your blood. 

Signs of a Thyroid Disorder

Multiple different conditions affect the thyroid. Thyroid disorders are unfortunately very common and it is estimated that 20 million people in the US have some type of thyroid disorder. Symptoms of a thyroid disorder can be broken into two major categories: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is producing too much hormone. Some of the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism are:

Fine or brittle hair

Weight loss

Racing heart

increased sweating

Muscle weakness 

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Some of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism are:

Dry skin

Brain fog or forgetfulness

Weight gain



It is important to know that while these symptoms could indicate a thyroid disorder, they also could indicate many different health conditions. If you suspect that you have a thyroid disorder or are having the symptoms listed above, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. 

Risk Factors

Thyroid disorders are extremely common, especially in women. These conditions can be present at birth and develop as you age. While thyroid conditions can develop in anyone, you make at higher risk if you:

  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Have a medical condition such as diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Are above the age of 60 years old
  • Take medication that includes high levels of iodine

It is important to know that you can live a healthy lifestyle with a thyroid condition. Thyroid disease is typically a life-long condition that is usually managed with daily medication. If you suspect that you have a thyroid condition, your doctor will screen you and develop a treatment plan to help you manage this condition.