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Located in the neck, the thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body. The thyroid produces an important hormone that regulates cellular activity and the body’s metabolism. Sometimes the thyroid gland can develop problems, including producing too little or too much hormone, the formation of nodules or lumps, increased growth of the thyroid itself, and even cancer. That’s why it’s important to understand the warning signs when your thyroid may be causing a problem. If you notice a warning sign, be sure to see your doctor.
Goiters – a goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Sometimes the enlargment is only slight and not at all bothersome. However, a more significantly enlarged gland can compress vital areas of the neck including the trachea and the esophagus, making both breathing and swallowing difficult. Goiters can also grow into the chest and cause problems there. If you feel that you may have a goiter, you should have it checked by your doctor.
Sluggish Thyroid – Also known as hypothyroidism, women are ten times more likely than men to develop this disease. Mild hypothyroidism often can go unrecognized, but as the condition progresses symptoms can include increased tiredness, sluggishness, depression, weight gain and constipation. There can also be other symptoms such as achiness, brittle hair and coarse, itchy skin. Treatment consists of taking thyroid hormone which the body no longer produces properly.
Overactive Thyroid – Also known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid vary, but can include weight loss, nervousness, irritability, a faster than normal heart rate, difficulty sleeping, trembling, weakness and other problems. This type of thyroid disease affects women 5-10 times more often than men. A common cause of an overactive thyroid is Grave’s disease, which can run in families. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by one or more nodules on the thyroid.. Treatment choices for an overactive thyroid include surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, and medication.
Thyroid Cancer – Thyroid nodules are quite common. Sometimes nodules on the thyroid can develop into cancer. However, most nodules are benign. Some of the warning signs of thyroid cancer are problems with swallowing, hoarseness, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, pain in the neck or throat and difficulty breathing. See your doctor to determine what is causing your symptoms.