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Thyroid Awareness Month: January 27, 2011

“The thyroid gland is very important. It sits in the base of the neck and it actually controls your metabolism,” saysLee Memorial Health System internal medicine physician, Dr. Aldith Lewis.

Your thyroid also affects the health of your skin. Even your energy level. If your thyroid levels are off, your body can give off clues.

Underactive thyroid is called a hypothyroidism: usually things slow down. Remember it controls your metabolism, so your heart rate will slow. You may feel fatigue. You may have some weight gain. Sensitivity to cold. Some people have constipation, thin nails, things tend to be slow. The body slows down,” explains Dr. Lewis.

Feeling anxious? Rushed? Irritable? You may have an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. “Everything speeds up. So you may get a fast pulse rate, you may get some weight loss, nervousness, restlessness sensitivity to heat, flushing sensations, again, everything speeds up.”

January is thyroid awareness month. Women are seven times more likely to develop thyroid problems than men. Testing for any potential thyroid issues is easy. “Routine blood testing will tell us,” adds Dr. Lewis. “That’s usually done by your physician with your routine lab work.”

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you are feeling anxious or rundown. Untreated thyroid problems can lead to osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol levels, even depression.