January is Thyroid Awareness Month! What is the Thyroid and what is its function?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the lower front of the neck. The role of the thyroid is to make thyroid hormones. These hormones are secreted into the blood and then carried throughout the body. The Thyroid controls the body’s metabolism, increases heart rate and affects how fast things move through the body such as food, bone loss and sugar. It is thought to be the most important endocrine organ! *saintjohnscancer.org*
According to the American Thyroid Association, Thyroid disorders have no age limits; indeed, hypothyroidism is clearly more common in older than in younger adults. Despite the increased frequency of thyroid problems in older individuals, physicians need a high index of suspicion to make the diagnosis since thyroid disorders often manifest as a disorder of another system in the body. Older patients with thyroid disorders require special attention to gradual and careful treatment, and, as always, require lifelong follow-up.