News & Events

Thyroid Awareness Month

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

January is Thyroid Awareness Month so we thought we would take some time to focus on this important gland, learn about its role in your body, how it works, and when things can go wrong.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It may be very small, but it plays a huge role in the body’s functions. In fact, it influences many of the body’s most important organs including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the thyroid is functioning properly for the body’s overall well-being.

How Does It Work?

Think of the thyroid as a machine that sets the pace in which your body operates. Just as fuel may produce the required energy to make a machine work, the thyroid gland manufacturers enough hormone to prompt cells to perform and function at a certain rate. A machine can’t work properly without fuel and the thyroid needs fuel to produce thyroid hormone. That fuel comes in the form of iodine, which is found in table salt, seafood, bread and milk.

The amount of thyroid hormone produced by your thyroid gland is controlled by a gland in your brain called the pituitary gland. Another part of your brain, the hypothalamus, sends information to the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, pituitary gland and hypothalamus all work together to control the amount of thyroid hormone in the body.

When Can Things Go Wrong?

There are different forms of thyroid disease listed below:

  1. Hypothyroidism – Underactive Thyroid (the most common). Symptoms include:
    1. Fatigue
    2. Brain Fog
    3. Weight Gain or Inability to Lose Weight
    4. Cold Hands or Feet
    5. Hair Loss
    6. Constipation
    7. Poor Concentration
    8. Infertility
    9. Low Libido
    10. Depression
    11. Decreased Heart Rate
    12. Decreased Body Temperature
  2. Hyperthyroidism – Overactive Thyroid
    1. Rapid heart rate
    2. Severe Anxiety and Panic Attacks
    3. Insomnia
    4. Weight Loss
    5. Hair loss
    6. Increased Body Temperature
    7. Shakiness or Tremors
    8. Loose Stool
    9. Increased Hunger
  3. Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
    1. Hypo- and hyperthyroidism are how thyroid disease manifest, but there are several underlying causes for each. Most patients’ thyroid disease is caused by autoimmune disease.
  4. Non-autoimmune Thyroid Disease
    1. This is inflammation of the thyroid gland. The most common problem is autoimmune problems as listed above. Viral infections and pregnancy can affect the thyroid gland.


To learn more about the thyroid click here. And if you feel like you may have a problem and need to see a physician call Internal Medicine Center at 251.414.5900.

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