|1.||Chapter 1 -Excerpt||See below|
|Chapter 1 -Excerpt|
|Your thyroid is one of your body's most important glands. When your thyroid doesn't work properly, it can cause you to feel nervous or tired; make your muscles weak; cause weight gain or loss; impair your memory; and affect your menstrual flow. A thyroid disorder can also cause miscarriage and infertility.|
About 13 million Americans—more of them women—are affected by a thyroid disease or disorder, according to the National Graves' Foundation. In fact, the Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study suggests that up to one in six people may have an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Women are at least five times more likely to have thyroid dysfunction than are men, but often don't know it. Symptoms often are overlooked or mistaken for symptoms of other conditions. For example, women are at particularly high risk for developing thyroid disorders following childbirth. Symptoms such as fatigue and depression are common during this period, but these symptoms also may be indicators of thyroid disease. More than half of thyroid conditions remain undiagnosed, according to the National Graves' Disease Foundation and the Thyroid Foundation of America. Graves' disease is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland you can feel at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Two lobes (the "wings" of the butterfly) fit on either side of your windpipe.
The thyroid gland can be thought of as a manufacturing and storage facility for thyroid hormone (TH), which is often referred to as the body's metabolic hormone. Among other actions, TH stimulates enzymes that combine oxygen and glucose, a process that increases the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and body heat production. TH also helps maintain blood pressure; regulates tissue growth and development; is critical for skeletal and nervous system development and plays an important role in the development of the reproductive system.
The thyroid gland can malfunction in one of three ways:
• It can release too little TH, resulting in a condition known as hypothyroidism (under active thyroid).
• It can release too much TH, resulting in a condition known as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
• Its tissue can overgrow, resulting in a nodule, a small lump in part of the gland. Most nodules are harmless growths, but small percentages are cancerous. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), tiny and insignificant carcinomas can be found in five to 10 percent or more of all thyroid glands that are carefully examined under the microscope at autopsy, but relatively few of them grow or spread to produce symptoms that lead to their detection during a person's lifetime. The thyroid cancers that are diagnosed each year represent about one percent of all cancers in the U.S. population, according to the NCI.
When too little TH is released, the body's metabolic rate decreases and the body slows down. Hypothyroidism can go undiagnosed because the following signs and symptoms can easily be mistaken for or attributed to other conditions:
• low body temperature
• weight gain
• dry or itchy skin
• coarse, dry hair/hair loss
• slow heart rate
• poor memory
• trouble with concentration
• hoarseness/husky voice
• irregular/heavy menstruation
• muscle aches
• high cholesterol
• goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
Hypothyroidism can occur spontaneously, develop during or after pregnancy or after treatment for hyperthyroidism. You can be born with it or it can be caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis, the leading cause of hypothyroidism.
Named for the Japanese health care professional, who first described it in detail, Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease. Such diseases are characterized by the immune system attacking the body's healthy tissues rather than fighting off invading bacteria or viruses. In this case, the immune system works against the thyroid by producing antibodies to the gland as if it were a foreign substance that needed to be destroyed. The damage caused by the antibodies results in decreased production TH.
Ranging from as small as a millimeter to as large as several inches, thyroid nodules themselves don't represent illness. In fact, it is estimated that half of the entire population will develop an unnoticeable growth on the thyroid at some time. Nodules do, however, indicate an underlying problem with the thyroid and should be evaluated if they are discovered.
The majorities of nodules are benign and are discrete clumps of thyroid cells, which don't function like normal thyroid tissue. Other nodules turn
|Review this Story >>>|