Thyroid Awareness Month
It has become traditional here in the United States that each month of the year is used to raise awareness for a variety of issues. February is famous for its celebration of Black History Month, likewise October is a time of awareness for breast cancer. Perhaps a lesser known campaign, the month of January is Thyroid Awareness Month.
Thyroid Awareness Month’s lack of fame points to a larger issue with thyroid conditions; not everybody knows what they are, even those who may have one.
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Thyroid Function: Small Part, Big Job
The thyroid is located in the middle of the lower neck. The butterfly shaped gland wraps around the front of the windpipe, where it produces hormones that help control our growth, development, body temperature, and metabolism.
Our metabolism is the biochemical process which dictates how our bodies convert food and drinks into energy. For this reason, the proper function of the thyroid gland is critical to our well-being.
The two major hormones created by the thyroid are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
You might not have heard of it before, but here are the facts:
- Approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease
- Around 60 percent of those with a thyroid condition are not aware of it
- The causes of thyroid conditions are largely unknown
- Women are more than 5 times more likely to develop a thyroid condition
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease can have disastrous consequences
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid disease.
Those most likely to develop hypothyroidism include women, particularly older women, and those with autoimmune disorders, bipolar disorder, down syndrome, or turner syndrome.
Hypothyroidism is a common condition which can be prevented by taking a daily T4 synthetic hormone supplement. Common medications PlushCare doctors prescribe for hypothyroidism are Synthroid and Levothyroxine.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Slow heart rate
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Dry hair and hair loss
- Dry skin
- Greater sensitivity to cold
- Swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
It is possible for babies to develop hypothyroidism. Such symptoms may include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Low muscle tone (floppy infant)
- Little or no growth
- Swollen tongue
- Extreme sleepiness
- Hoarse cry
- Persistent jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Poor feeding habits
- Puffy face
- Stomach bloating
Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid that produces too much hormone.
You are most likely to suffer from hyperthyroidism if you are female, have had other thyroid complications, or if you’re over the age of 60.
70% of people with hyperthyroidism have Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease in which your antibodies attack the thyroid leading to excessive production of T4. Doctors aren’t sure what causes Graves’ disease, but it tends to run in families.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Crankiness or irritability
- Mood swings
- Sensitivity to heat
- Swelling of the neck
- Rapid weight loss
- Pounding heart
- Tremors in the hands
- Sleep problems
- Brittle hair
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
Goiters are growths or swelling of the thyroid gland.
Enlargement of the thyroid gland may be a temporary concern which will resolve itself without any medical intervention. However, goiters can also be a symptom of serious health conditions which require immediate medical attention.
Goiters can form rapidly, or slowly over many years.
They can cause discomfort in the neck and difficulty swallowing. Goiters can influence the production of thyroid hormones, either creating too much, too few, or sometimes causing no changes at all.
In some cases, a goiter may be the result of a faulty immune system response which causes your antibodies to attack the thyroid glands.
This is called autoimmune thyroiditis and is most likely to occur in:
- Middle aged people
- Those with another autoimmune disease
- Those related to someone with autoimmune thyroiditis
- Those exposed to radiation
Symptoms of thyroiditis include:
- Extra sensitivity to cold
- Puffy face
- Difficulty pooping
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Enlarged tongue
- Memory lapse
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Aches and pains
Thyroid cancer occurs when cells change or mutate. These abnormal cells then begin to multiply in your thyroid, eventually forming a tumor and potentially spreading throughout your body.
Fortunately, if caught early, thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common form of thyroid cancer, found in 80% of cases.
It tends to grow slowly, but can spread to the lymph nodes in your neck. Even after this point however, a full recovery is still possible.
Treatment for thyroid cancer most likely involves the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid.
Ask your doctor today about your risk of thyroid cancer, as well as other thyroid conditions.
Or, click here to check out the American Thyroid Association’s page created just for January Thyroid Awareness Month 2020.
Thyroid Diagnosis and Treatment Online
If suspect you have a thyroid disorder you can conveniently consult with a doctor from the comfort of your own home by booking an online appointment.
Before diagnosing your condition the doctor will order a blood test to check your thyroid function. This test can be sent to a blood lab near you where you can go get tested.
Once your results are in the PlushCare doctor will diagnose your condition and prescribe any necessary medication. If they feel you need follow up care, or to be seen in person, they can recommend you to an endocrinologist in your area.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a thyroid condition and need medication refills, our doctors can do that too!
Click here to set up a remote appointment with one of our trusted PlushCare doctors to address any symptoms you may be experiencing. Our doctors can diagnose, treat, write and refill prescriptions for thyroid conditions.
Read More About Thyroid Awareness Month
Thyroid.org. January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Accessed January 21, 2020 at https://www.thyroid.org/january-thyroid-awareness/
Healthychildren.org. Congenital Hypothyroidism in Infants. Accessed January 21, 2020 at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Glands-Growth-Disorders/Pages/Congenital–Hypothyroidism-Infants.aspx