One of the most important parts of the body is also one of the smallest ones. The butterfly-shaped gland is the epitome example of 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.
About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to American Thyroid Association estimates. More than 12 percent of people in the U.S. will develop a thyroid condition, and around 60 percent don’t know they have a problem.
Several factors can cause a problem. Some of them are iodine and vitamin D deficiency; toxicity decreases the production of hormones; gluten can also affect the gland. The most common cause, he says (who says?), is an autoimmune disease – when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells – but a lot of other factors can contribute.
Just as there are many aspects to what affects the thyroid gland, there are multiple signs that it’s not working right. Most issues are life-long conditions, but they can be managed. However, the symptoms are not specific. The more of them you have, the more likely you have a thyroid condition.