January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and physicians from the Hilda and J. Lester Gabrilove Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease and the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Mount Sinai Health System are emphasizing the importance of being aware of symptoms that may be related to thyroid disease.
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck and under the voice box. It produces hormones that help the body control the rate of metabolism, and regulate the production and consumption of energy. When thyroid function is accelerated, the condition is called hyperthyroidism; when slowed, it is called hypothyroidism. Imbalances in thyroid function may be a result of environmental, autoimmune, or genetic factors. Additionally, thyroid issues may lead to cancer.
Thyroid disease affects roughly 200 million people worldwide, and thyroid cancer is on the rise, with roughly 52,000 new cases diagnosed in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. Three out of four thyroid cancer diagnoses are made in women. Data from the American Thyroid Association shows that more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime, and the cause of these problems is largely unknown. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and up to 60 percent of them don't know they have it, so they go undiagnosed and untreated.
Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid issues, and one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder. People with a family history of thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer, and exposure to high doses of radiation, are also at increased risk." Terry Davies, MD, Co-Director of the Mount Sinai Thyroid Center at Union Square and Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai How to perform a thyroid neck self-exam: Use a mirror and focus on the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones and below the Adam's apple (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck. While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back. Take a drink of water and swallow. As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don't confuse the Adam's apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times. If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed. Symptoms and facts about thyroid disease Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid and hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are rapid weight loss, high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are weak or slow heartbeat; muscular weakness; constant fatigue; weight gain; depression; slow reflexes; sensitivity to cold; thick, puffy, or dry skin; slowed mental processes and poor memory; and constipation. Goiter is another thyroid condition; it involves a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, often causing difficulty swallowing or breathing. Thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women. The number of new cases of thyroid cancer is growing most rapidly among all cancers in both men and women, due to increased detection. Thyroid disease and pregnancy
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