An estimated 28-30 million Americans have a thyroid problem. Though it’s a very common health problem, half of these Americans are unaware of their condition. Medication for thyroid problems is the most frequently prescribed medication in the U.S.
January is Thyroid Awareness Month so take this opportunity to learn about the thyroid with your doctor and get yourself healthy for the New Year.
Dr. Mack Harrell, thyroid specialist and president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Dr. Yehuda Handelsman, president of the American College of Endocrinology, want to bring awareness and teach women what it means to have an under and overactive thyroid.
What is the Thyroid?
"The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that controls the rate at which the body burns energy by producing two types of hormones," according to Dr. Harrell. "They circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream."
Underactive thyroid: It slows down metabolism, can make you tired, cause difficulty in losing weight, constipation, dry skin and hair loss. It can even make you forgetful and depressed as it can affect the brain.
Overactive thyroid: You can lose weight, become sweaty, anxious, nervous, and it can interfere with your period.
"Generally we see more thyroid problems in women than men, particularly low thyroid," says Dr. Handelsman. It’s also more prevalent with age. Some questions to consider asking your doctor would be:
- What your thyroid is
- How it works
- How it acts when not working properly. What are the symptoms?
- What a thyroid lump means
- If you have a thyroid problem, what medications can be used?
Make sure the medication is the same each time you pick up your prescription. It’s all about being balanced - same amount of medication at the same time.
In pregnancy, it’s very important that the thyroid hormones are regulated carefully because a little thyroid disarray can affect the fetus. Oftentimes after pregnancy is when a problem can occur.
To learn more about overactive and underactive thyroid problems, visit their site at thyroidawareness.com.