January is thyroid awareness month, and the latest wellness report tells you why it might just be the perfect time for you to get your thyroid checked. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
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," Altiery says.
She underwent surgery to successfully remove the mass, but she admits she waited too long. Dr. Randall Owen of Mount Sinai Medical Center agrees, and says many people don't think to have their thyroids examined.
January is thyroid awareness month, and doctors are encouraging people to make sure things are in check.
"The thyroid is a gland in the lower neck which produces a hormone called thyroid hormone, and that's important in metabolism and energy, and many different disorders can occur, altering the function of the gland," Owen says.
The thyroid is like a control center for the body and influences weight, energy, skin and hair health, among other things.
Owen says that thyroid disorders are often left undiagnosed because many people don't think things like weight change or anxiety could be a sign of an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Also, thyroid cancer is on the rise, and many people don't know what to look for.
"Thyroid cancer may manifest as a change in voice, so the voice may become hoarse, weak, husky, a change in tone, or a mass in the neck," Owen says.
So it's important to be conscious of symptoms and to do a self-exam. Simply inspect the lower neck and swallow in front of 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.
Owen says that most thyroid conditions are treatable, either with medication or surgery. For those patients who don't want a scar in their neck, new technology allows doctors to access the thyroid by creating a tunnel from the underarm to the neck.
For more information on thyroid health, visit thyroidawareness.com.