With January being Thyroid Awareness Month, let’s talk about why your thyroid is important and how you can detect issues with your thyroid.

What is the thyroid?

Your thyroid is an endocrine gland located at the front of your neck. This small butterfly-shaped gland plays a big role in your body’s functions by releasing hormones directly into the bloodstream. Hormones that are released by different glands are chemicals that coordinate different functions throughout your body telling your body what to do and when. The hormone released by your thyroid controls your metabolism.

Your thyroid gland affects almost every organ in your body from the cardiovascular system to nervous system, digestive system and reproductive system. You can live without this gland but it will require you to take replacement medication for the rest of your life.

Who is at risk for thyroid disease?

No one is safe from thyroid disease, but women are 5-8 times more likely to develop thyroid problems during their life. Studies show as many as 1 in 8 women develop a thyroid disorder. Your chances increase if you have an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease or type 1 diabetes. Other risk factors include those with family history of thyroid disease.

What are warning signs of thyroid issues?

There are quite a few signs that you could be dealing with thyroid issues. If you are experiencing these, seek medical advice. Diagnosing thyroid problems early is key. These symptoms:

  • Digestive issues: loose stools or constipation
  • Emotional challenges such as anxiety or anger
  • Rapid weight gain or weight loss without change in behavior
  • Change in skin where you experience dryness or oily skin
  • Difficulty dealing with temperature changes. Maybe you need to wear more layers inside during the winter
  • Changes in vision or dry, red eyes
  • Sudden hair loss
  • Memory loss that affects your daily activities
  • Lumps or nodules in your neck

What conditions affect the thyroid gland?

There are four main conditions that affect the thyroid gland. These are:

  • Hypothyroidism: or underactive thyroid where it doesn’t release enough hormones. This condition can slow your metabolism, leave you feeling tired and out of energy, and impact how you respond to temperatures.
  • Hyperthyroidism: or overactive thyroid. This can make your metabolism speed up, can lead to rapid heart rate, weight loss, increased appetite and even anxiety.
  • Goiter is a condition where your thyroid grows larger than it should.
  • Thyroid cancer is highly curable. Because of this, it’s important to catch it early.

College Park Pharmacy, Howard’s Pharmacy, Mooney’s Pharmacy, and P&S Pharmacy are local pharmacies here in East Tennessee who are here to support you on your journey to better health. Our pharmacies can fulfill your prescriptions for pickup or delivery and also offer flu shots. Come by and see us.