Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wis. – A human’s thyroid gland is relatively small – just two inches long, however it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form or thyroid disorder, according to the American Thyroid Association.
During January’s Thyroid Awareness Month, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want to provide education about this important part of the body, especially because up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition; and the cause(s) of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck. It produces a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism, affecting critical body functions such as energy level and heart rate. Undiagnosed thyroid problems may put people at risk for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity.
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Registered Nurse and Manager of the Medical/Surgical Department, Michelle Willcutt says most thyroid diseases are life-long, but can be managed with medication and regular provider visits.
“The thyroid is a gland people often take for granted because it’s not talked about as much as the heart, liver and brain, for example,” says Willcutt. “But anyone - at any age, can develop thyroid problems. Even newborns are screened for congenital hypothyroidism, which means the gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.”
Willcutt says women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop a thyroid condition.
Symptoms of a thyroid gland concern may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Unexplained depression or anxiety
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, talk with your health care provider about getting a blood test to check your thyroid function. It’s also important to schedule annual visits with your provider to maintain good overall health.
About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.