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Your thyroid’s job is to regulate your body’s metabolism, but some conditions can make it fall out of step
It‘s just a small gland in your neck and yet it affects nearly every organ in your body. It’s your thyroid, and chances are you don’t even know what it does. But you should—so you can determine if yours is functioning properly.
The thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, telling each organ how fast or slow to work, according to the Hormone Foundation. Millions of Americans have disorders that cause their thyroid to produce too little or too much of the hormones, affecting everything from energy and sleep to hair loss and weight gain.
Here are three of them:
The result of an overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism is when the body’s metabolism is speeded up. Symptoms may include muscle weakness, trembling hands, rapid heartbeat, weight loss, diarrhea, irritability, increased sweating and fatigue.
“Hyperthyroidism often runs in families,” says Alvin Huang, MD, an endocrinologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. “If you have family members, especially women, who have hyperthyroidism, you talk with your doctor about what this could mean for you, and whether you should get tested.”
The opposite of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism slows down the body’s metabolism. In this more common condition, symptoms could include fatigue, depression, feeling cold, weight gain, dry skin and hair, as well as constipation.
These growths on the thyroid gland are common, and most people never know they are there. “They sometimes grow to where you or your doctor can feel them,” Dr. Huang says. “Or, they may be found incidentally during a scan for another condition. In any case, you’ll want to get it checked out.”
Find a doctor who can help you make sense of your symptoms. For a referral to an endocrinologist on the medical staff at Baylor Plano, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or visit BaylorHealth.com/Plano.
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