It’s time to learn more about thyroid disease according to experts. Even when a patient has all the classic symptoms of a thyroid problem, doctors often still make the wrong diagnosis, an experience that’s far too common for comfort according to the Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). The organization estimates that 30 million American have some form of thyroid condition, but more than half of these remain undiagnosed.
Another key number… the American Thyroid Association estimates that one in four residents in nursing homes have hypothyroidism that’s undiagnosed but is contributing to loss of memory and declines in thinking.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped organ found at the base of your neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It’s not large in size, but the impact of this organ on the body is impressive – from weight to mood, to heart rate and energy level. Think of it as the engine that sets the pace for the body to operate – your thyroid makes enough hormones to prompt your cells to do certain functions at certain rates. The “gas” for the engine is the iodine that comes from your diet and in extracted from the bloodstream by the thyroid gland.
Women (especially those over 50) are 7 to 10 times more likely to have hypothyroidism, where the gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones. The symptoms of this condition can be vague and develop over time so they can escape notice for a bit. Often they mimic things most of us associate with getting older – hair and skin changes, forgetfulness, constipation, trouble dealing with cold. Sore muscles and lack of energy are all easily blamed on increasing years.
The other extreme, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), features symptoms that are far easier to spot. Weight loss, even though you’re not trying, anxiety, sensitivity to heat, and an accelerated or irregular heart rate are all clues that your thyroid might be producing more hormones than your body can use.
Though you’ve often heard otherwise, experts agree that weight gain can’t always be blamed on a thyroid problem. Eating too much junk food and not exercising enough are not the symptoms of a thyroid disorder; they are the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle. Thyroid induced weight gain is typically 10 to 20 pounds; hardly the same as carrying around a well settled 300 pounds.
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Link Between Sickness And Thyroid ? Continued…
Thyroid problems aren’t an easy fix, even once you have the correct diagnosis. Hormone levels can sometimes fall in the borderline/normal range, making even the decision to treat controversial… a judgment call on the part of your doctor. Hormone replacement drugs are tricky in terms of dosing, usually needing to be fine-tuned and regularly monitored so that you don’t take too much, or too little. You’ll be taking the same dose of the same medication at the same time each and every day. It’s not an easy balancing act to maintain, but with care and effort it certainly can be done and will help to restore proper function to your body.
If you’re a woman over 50, talk to your doctor about screening for thyroid function as this is part of a rather simple blood test (for thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH and thyroid antibodies), one you’d likely be having anyway. Repeat the screenings every year or two as you get older. Because thyroid disease is less common in men, they can wait to get screened until age 65 or earlier if they develop a symptom or have other risk factors.
To your good health,