January is Thyroid Awareness Month.

According to Indian Health Service (IHS), the thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It influences the function of many important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin.

"The thyroid’s job is to make hormones which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body,” Newman Healthcare Associates Family Practice Physician Danna K. Stuart, M.D. said. “Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.”

Although the thyroid gland is relatively small, it plays a huge role in the body, according to IHS.

"If the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, you can have symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, hair thinning, among others,” Stuart explained. “You are more likely to have thyroid issues if someone in your family has a thyroid that doesn’t function properly.”

According to the American Thyroid Association, there are several different tests available to assess thyroid function and diagnose thyroid disease.

“If you are concerned that you may have a thyroid condition, talk to your provider to see if testing is indicated," Stuart stressed.

For more information, contact your physician or visit the American Thyroid Association at www.thyroid.org.

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