The thyroid is the epitome example small but powerful. The tiny gland at the base of the neck produces hormones that control many essential body processes, from the beating of the heart and burning calories, to skin turnover and forming memories. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association. Most are life-long conditions, but they can be managed. Up to 60 percent of patients are unaware of their illness. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have problems.