How to Tell If You Have a Thyroid Problem

Are you one of 20 million Americans who don't know their thyroid gland isn't working?

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.[slideshow:88415]

The small butterfly-shaped gland can cause a lot of problems which are not limited to overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underperforming thyroid (hypothyroidism). They also include goiter, which is the enlargement of the gland, cancer, nodules, and Thyroiditis, which is the swelling of the thyroid.

A blood test is done to determine Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. If they are above 2, then the glad isn’t functioning properly, Prudence Hall, MD, from The Hall Center, says. “The reference range used to be above 4.4, which is why 40-50 percent of cases were missed,” she adds. Factors that cause thyroid disorders include iodine deficiency, toxicity and gluten. “Thyroid can also catch a cold and the infection can cause it to underperform,” she adds.

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.

Click here for the signs you may have a thyroid problem

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