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Thyroid awareness is critical to your health

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Thyroid awareness is critical to your health
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If you have a problem with your thyroid, it's important it gets treated in a timely matter. In this edition of Wellness, Jill Urban explains the importance of thyroid awareness.

One year ago, Sasha Altiery had surgery to remove a nodule on her thyroid. It was something she was aware of, but put off for years until it became a problem.

"I couldn’t breathe anymore when I was sleeping. Or I felt suffocated for most of the day," explained Altiery.

She underwent surgery to successfully remove the mass. However, she admits she waited too long. Dr. Randall Owen agrees, and said many people don’t think to have their thyroid examined.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and doctors are encouraging people to make sure things are in check.

Dr. Owen said, "The thyroid is a gland that exists in the lower neck which produces a hormone called the thyroid hormone, and that’s important in metabolism and energy and different disorders can occur altering the function of the gland."

The thyroid acts as a control center for our body, and influences weight, energy, skin and hair health. He says thyroid disorders are often left undiagnosed because people may not think things like weight change or anxiety could be associated with an overactive or underactive thyroid.

In addition, thyroid cancer is on the rise and many people don’t know what to look for.

"Sometimes a thyroid cancer can actually manifest as a change in voice. The voice may become hoarse, weak, husky, a change in tone or a mass in the neck," said Dr. Owen.

It's important to be conscious of symptoms and to do a self exam. Inspect the lower neck and swallow in a mirror to check for any unusual lumps. Altiery is lucky she went to a doctor when she did, because her mass had small traces of cancer in it. Now, she is encouraging everyone to be vigilant.

Dr. Owen says most thyroid conditions are treatable either with medication or surgery, and for those patients who don’t want a scar on their neck, new technology allows doctors to access the thyroid by creating a tunnel from the underarm to the neck.

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