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Article title: Thyroid Disease: NWHIC
The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that takes up iodine from the body to produce hormones that help control the body's metabolism, and regulate how quickly the body should work and use energy. About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, including many who may not be aware of their condition. It is more common in women than men.
Hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid disease. It occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone-causing the body use energy more slowly than it should. Symptoms may include feeling sluggish, cold, depressed, forgetful, experiencing dry hair and skin, constipation, and increased menstrual flow. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the thyroid and keeps it from producing enough thyroid hormone. It is the most common form of hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone and makes the body use more energy than it should. Symptoms may include nervousness, irritability, shaky hands, increased perspiration, warm skin, thinning hair, weight loss, decreased menstruation, eye changes, and weak leg muscles. Grave's disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune condition in which the body produces antibodies that overstimulate the thyroid gland, so that it produces too much thyroid hormone.
Postpartum thyroiditis is a swelling of the thyroid that occurs in 5%-7% of women who give birth, and can cause temporarily high levels of thyroid hormone.
Most thyroid cancers grow very slowly and can be effectively treated. Although anyone can get thyroid cancer, people who as children received head or neck x-ray treatments for tonsillitis or other conditions (generally from the 1920s to 1960s) are more at risk.
Thyroid disease is generally easily and safely treated with medication alone or with surgery and medication. It is important to monitor thyroid levels regularly with your doctor.
You can find out more about thyroid disorders by contacting the following organizations:
Office of Scientific and Health Information, NIDDK, (301) 496-3583, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/
Thyroid Foundation of America, (800) 832-8321, https://www.clark.net/pub/tfa
All material contained in the FAQs is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services; citation of the sources is appreciated.
Publication date: 1998
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