World Thyroid Day is marked on May 25 every year to raise awareness about diseases that affect the thyroid gland that impacts the health of millions of people worldwide.

The thyroid gland is a small endocrine gland located at the front of the neck, which is responsible for producing and releasing certain hormones that control the speed of metabolism.

Although thyroid disorders are easily identifiable and treatable, they can lead to serious health issues if left undiagnosed.

Here are the main types of disorders that affect the thyroid gland:

Hypothyroidism: It is caused by low production of thyroid hormone due to an underactive thyroid gland. It is estimated that nearly five out of 100 people in the U.S. of over 12 years have hypothyroidism. Here are the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Difficulty to tolerate cold
  • Muscular pain
  • Dry skin, thinning of hair
  • Irregular menstrual periods or fertility problems
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Memory issues

Hyperthyroidism: It happens when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland.

The symptoms include losing weight, palpitations, increased appetite, sensitivity to heat, anxiety and irritability, sleep problems, warm and moist skin and changes in bowel patterns.

Goiter: It is a condition that causes swelling in the thyroid gland, which may or may not be associated with functional changes in the thyroid gland. The main symptoms are swelling in the neck that does not go away, persistent cough, changes in voice, wheezing noise, obstruction in the throat and difficulty swallowing.

Hashimoto's disease: It is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. The body's immune cells attack the thyroid gland as if some bacteria/viruses have entered the body. Although the exact cause is not known, certain factors such as genetics and external factors like infection, stress or radiation exposure trigger the condition. The symptoms include fatigue, dry skin, constipation, irregular periods, slowed heart rate and weight gain.

Thyroid cancer: It occurs when the cancer cells develop in thyroid gland tissues. The patients might show symptoms such as a lump in the front of the neck, hoarseness, swollen glands in the neck, difficulty swallowing and breathing, persistent cough and pain in the throat or neck.

Steps to maintain a healthy thyroid:

  • Cut down on sugar and processed food
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Include food rich in vitamin A
  • Limit the intake of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage
  • Maintain a healthy weight
Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found under the Adam's apple, which support the endocrine system and the production of hormones that control metabolic rate, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Pixabay