The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam's apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of the body's most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body's overall well-being.
Unfortunately, thyroid disease is a fact of life for as many as 30 million Americans - and many of those people remain undiagnosed. The most common type of thyroid disease is hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone).
Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, individuals are at an increased risk if they:
Are a woman
Are older than 60
Have a family history of thyroid disease
Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease
Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
Received radiation to the neck or upper chest
Have had thyroid surgery (partial or total thyroidectomy)
Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months