The Butterfly Effect
As women, we have so many things to keep track of in order to stay on top of our health and wellbeing. We have to check our breasts. We have to check our “lady parts”. And, we have to check our necks! You may have read that last sentence and questioned why I would include something as benign as the neck. But truth be told, the neck is a pretty big deal. It’s not just a place to adorn your favorite statement piece or a cute scarf. It’s much more than just a pedestal for your head. The neck is home to a butterfly-shaped gland known as the thyroid.
The thyroid releases hormones that control our growth, development, and metabolism. Breathing, menstruation, weight, and temperature regulation are just a few of the processes that are made possible by the thyroid gland. Sounds minor, right? Wrong! When the thyroid overreacts, our bodies overreact. When the thyroid underreacts, our bodies slow down. Any variations in its ability to function lead to variations in our ability to function.
Although this “butterfly effect” isn’t just a female thing, we are more likely to be affected by it. Men have thyroid issues as well, but it speaks volumes that every person I know with a thyroid disorder is a woman. This means we have to be deliberate about paying attention to our bodies, listening to the messages it sends, and getting ahead of any messages that have yet to be delivered.
There are certain parts of the body that seem insignificant, but we know they are necessary simply by the fact that they exist. The neck is no exception. We see it every day, we use it every day, but do we take notice? A simple check, along with a thyroid panel, can provide you with the information you need to determine your thyroid health. The next time you talk with your health care provider, find out what you can do to protect your neck. If you are an endocrinologist interested in educating black women and girls, consider becoming a BGH partner: https://blackgirlhealth.com/partnerships/