Bringing Awareness to the Thyroid: A Tiny But Mighty Gland

How aware are you of the small but powerful butterfly-shaped glad that resides at the base of your neck? January is Thyroid Awareness Month, a time to share about the importance of this gland and draw attention to symptoms that may be related to thyroid disease. Although the thyroid gland is small, it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in your body, and helps maintain your body’s basic functions, such as temperature, heart rate, and growth and development.

Did You Know?*

  • More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.*
  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.*
  • Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.*
  • Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.*


‘Thyroid disorder’ refers to a number of conditions that affect how the gland functions. Many people with thyroid disorders may not know that anything is wrong or could think that their symptoms are due to other causes. Symptoms can vary depending on whether a person’s thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism).

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Dry skin and hair loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Frequent and/or abnormally heavy menstrual periods

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

  • Irritability and/or sleep disturbances
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Infrequent and/or very light menstrual periods

Check Your Neck

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is made by the pituitary gland near your brain and stimulates the thyroid to make other important hormones. The best way to initially test thyroid function is to measure the TSH levels. Changes in TSH can serve as an “early warning system” to help detect thyroid problems.

If you are a healthcare provider, click here to become a client so you can begin ordering TSH and other thyroid function tests.


*American Thyroid Association