January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, a month dedicated to encouraging knowledge, understanding and awareness of thyroid importance, and prevention of thyroid cancer and disorders. During National Thyroid Awareness Month, organizations—like the American Thyroid Association and The National Academy of Hypothyroidism—promote a full range of thyroid tests and treatment options that you can get from your healthcare provider.
About the Thyroid
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in the body, influencing the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is important to the body’s overall well-being. By secreting a hormone that regulates your metabolism, your thyroid makes sure your body uses energy at the proper rate.
If your thyroid is not functioning properly, your metabolism may burn energy rapidly or not quickly enough. Fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or rapid heart rate could be a result of an over- or under-active thyroid. It is estimated that millions of people, mostly women, have undiagnosed thyroid disorders.
Resources for Help
If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, contact your doctor and be sure to ask whether your thyroid could be causing the problem. Don’t have a doctor? If you are a Health Advocate member, call us! You will speak to a Personal Health Advocate, who can help you find an in-network, local, primary care physician or a specialist. Health Advocate can also help you schedule your appointment, get a second opinion, and more.
If you do not have access to Health Advocate, The American Thyroid Association website offers an easy-to-use search tool that can help locate physicians in your area.
Learn about different thyroid conditions:
Other websites offering support include:
- American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery: www.entnet.org
- American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: www.aace.com
- American Association of Endocrine Surgeons : www.endocrinesurgery.org
- International Thyroid Oncology Group: www.itog.org
- Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation: www.NGDF.org
- Light of Life Foundation: www.checkyourneck.com
- National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid
ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.: www.thyca.org