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Are you among the millions of Americans with a thyroid problem?

Thyroid illustrationThe thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck that is responsible for producing a hormone to regulate growth, metabolism and energy.

The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and of those, about 60 percent don’t know they have a problem.

During a recent Health Matters seminar, Dr. Hien Tran, an ADC endocrinologist, explained how the thyroid works and how to recognize the signs of common thyroid problems. She also explained how thyroid diseases are diagnosed and treated.

Thyroid disease can cause your body to use energy more slowly or quickly than it should, and it’s more common in women than in men.

Diseases of the thyroid include:

  • Goiter
    This is thyroid enlargement.
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
    With hypothyroidism, the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone, and the body’s metabolism slows down. It can be caused by a number of different conditions including autoimmune thyroiditis (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), medications, iodine deficiency, and the surgical removal of the thyroid.
  • Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid)
    With hyperthyroidism, the thyroid produces too much hormone, and metabolism speeds up. This condition can be caused by Grave’ disease, thyroid inflammation caused by infection or medication, or thyroid nodules.
  • Thyroid Nodule
    This is a small swelling or lump in the thyroid gland, and they are considered common. In fact, more than 90 percent of nodules are not harmful or cancerous.
  • Thyroid Cancer
    Most thyroid cancers are either papillary or follicular and can be treated with surgery and radioiodine.

Doctors often identify thyroid disorders by conducting a personal and family history, as well as a physical exam. They may also evaluat the results of a blood test.

Watch the video above to learn more about how to spot common thyroid problems.

Further Reading