The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located on the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of our most important organs. “Thyroid disorders that affect the production of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) often present with subtle signs and symptoms. Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism and therefore, metabolic rate,” says Jane Renfro, M. S., Ph. D. “There are several thyroid disorders that affect the amount of thyroid hormone produced. Those that increase production of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) accelerate metabolism while those that impair thyroid production (hypothyroidism) depress metabolism.”
Approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of people with the disease are unaware that they have the condition, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Women are more likely than men to develop the disorder.
It’s extremely important to educate yourself on the signs of a thyroid condition. You may be suffering from the disorder and not know it. If you have noticed changes in your weight, mental responsiveness, sleep pattern, heart rate or blood pressure, it would be wise to check in with your doctor to see if these may be subtle signs of a thyroid condition.