Thyroid problems are something that runs in my family. My dad’s mom had a hyperactive thyroid while my mom’s dad had a hypoactive thyroid. I, on the other hand, had thyroid cancer at the age of 13. When diagnosed with thyroid cancer something my doctors told me was: “if people got to choose what type of cancer they got, people would be lined up to New Jersey to have thyroid cancer”. When diagnosed with thyroid cancer, an immediate thought that crossed my mind was, “Well, what exactly is a thyroid?” It certainly is not a part of the body that you hear of often, but it is a very important part that keeps your body running the way it does.
So what exactly is your thyroid and what does it do? One’s thyroid is located in the front and bottom of the neck. It is often described as looking like a butterfly. The thyroid controls many aspects of your body which include things such as regulating one’s breathing and heart rate, body weight and temperature, mood, anxiety and much more (Brady). The thyroid gland produces two hormones, Triiodothyronine (or T3) and Thyoxine (or T4). Keeping these hormones at a steady level is key for the body to properly function. If they are not at a normal level, this can result in hypoactive or hyperactive thyroids (Brady).
Hypoactive thyroids can result in depression, sleepiness or trouble sleeping, dryness of skin, or pain. While hyperactive thyroids can result in mood swings, anxiety/nervousness, shaking, and actually losing hair (Brady). Both can lead to issues with the heart. Hypoactive will slow your heart down and hyperactive will speed it up and cause heart arrhythmia. It is crazy that many do not even know what a thyroid is because it controls so much of the body that if any of these side effects happened to you, it could really mess with your daily routine.
Thyroid Cancer is when cells that are abnormal grow on the thyroid gland and in the surrounding lymph nodes. Thyroid cancer is a more uncommon type of cancer and is usually easily treatable if found early. There is not a known cause of thyroid cancer, so as of now, there is no real way to prevent it. Often times they have to take out part or the entire thyroid if there are malignant cells growing on it. In my case, they had to take out my whole thyroid gland.
Without a thyroid, I would have a lot of problems right? Well, good thing there is a pill called “synthroid” that you can take that will act as a thyroid for your body. Depending on how much of one’s thyroid that is missing and also many other factors, you will be put on a special dose of synthroid. While trialing the synthroid one must keep track of any changes that would possibly be seen as “hypo or hyper”. If any symptoms, such as weight gain or lose, takes place, then the dose of synthroid must be either raised or lowered.
Thyroid problems are a huge issue but I feel as though many do not truly know the extent of them. The thyroid gland controls so many body aspects, that it must be more recognized. If you’re concerned you may have an issue with your thyroid click here to learn more about the symptoms.