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I INTRODUCTION The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that takes up iodine from the body to produce hormones that help control the bodys 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 NWHIC 1998 Thyroid hormone is essential for maintaining normal function of almost all organs in our body It is very important for regulating growth and metabolism Thyroid disease occurs when the level of hormone secreted by the thyroid gland is too high or too low Joyce 1998 Thyroid disorders cause various symptoms the two main types of disorders are hypothyroidism such as Hashimotos thyroiditis and hyperthyroidism such as Graves disease NWHIC 1998 Both conditions can be difficult to diagnose because they produce relatively mild symptoms Hence thyroid disorders are often misdiagnosed as depression aging or other causes of tiredness fatigue or forgetfulness NWHIC 1998 Therefore a thyroid disorder is a possibility that must be ruled out in diagnoses of conditions such as depression fibromyalgia lupus sleep disorders and various other conditions TFA nd fortunately diagnosis of thyroid problems is relatively specific by blood tests of thyroid hormone levels Joyce 1998 Thyroid disorders are treatable but can be serious if untreated so any suspicion of thyroid problems needs to be confirmed promptly by a doctor II DISEASES OF THE THYROID Thyroid diseases are 10 times more common in women than in men NWHIC 1998 as mentioned earlier the two main types of thyroid disorders are i Hypothyroidism ii Hyperthyroidism i Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid develops when the thyroid gland fails to produce or secrete as much thyroxine T4 as the body needs Haggerty 2001 Because T4 regulates such essential functions as heart rate digestion physical growth and mental development Joyce 1998 an insufficient supply of this hormone can slow life-sustaining processes damage organs
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