Remember the Noid, that weird little mascot for Domino's Pizza back in the 80's? It was a crazy little creature whose main goal in life was to destroy your yummy hot pizza. I can't think of a funny segue into thyroid disease with the Noid, but at least it rhymes.
The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below your Adam's apple. If you are lucky, you will go through most of life without ever even having to deal with it. Unfortunately, especially if you have a family history of it, thyroid disease one of the most common endocrine disorders around, right up there with diabetes. And it affects women FIVE TIMES MORE than men (yeah!).
The thyroid secretes thyroid hormone which regulates the body's metabolism. It impacts your heart rate, hair, skin, bones, sleep, weight, menstrual cycle and a host of other things in your body. This article gives a brief overview of thyroid disease. The good thing is that it is a simple diagnosis made with a blood test that looks for the levels of thyroid hormones and antibodies to the thyroid gland. Even better is that the medicine is pretty cheap and starts to work right away.
Interesting fact: The term "cretin", meaning a barbaric or uncouth person was initially used to describe babies who had a congenital thyroid deficiency. Cretin sounds like Chretien, the French word for "Christian". The babies with no thyroid often had profound retardation and were thought to be incapable of committing sin. This is why they check for the thyroid hormone at birth with the newborn screen.
Another interesting fact: Did you know that the reason salt is iodized is because iodine is a critical element in creating thyroid hormone? Before iodized salt was widely available, many people had underactive thyroid gland, leading to goiters.