Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
This is January which is recognized each year as the month the public is made aware of the importance in monitoring for symptoms of thyroid disease and in seeing their doctor for testing if thyroid dysfunction is suspected.
The importance in this push each year to make people more aware of thyroid diseases/disorders is in the fact that according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, half of people who suffer thyroid problems fail to be diagnosed. This is mainly due to their lack of recognition for signs and symptoms of these diseases that affect an estimated 28 million or more (up to 60 million) Americans and a far greater number of people worldwide.
I also feel the importance in thyroid awareness month is in the fact that doctors as well become better educated in monitoring and testing their patients for thyroid hormone imbalances and "thyroid autoimmunity", which is the class of diseases commonly causing thyroid disorders.
When you consider that millions of people are undiagnosed, it is an incredible realization. Many people suffering symptoms of hypothyroidism for example (under-active thyroid), will believe they are simply stressed out and tired or will attribute symptoms of their slowed metabolism to getting older. People suffering hyperthyroid symptoms (overactive thyroid) will believe they are simply going through an anxious time or are just having a case of nervousness and an unexplained spike in their energy levels. Both conditions also commonly cause goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland)which can also be better recognized with more public education.
Both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions can result in health complications over time if not diagnosed and treated. Both conditions for example can negatively affect the heart over time with hypothyroidism raising cholesterol levels and hyperthyroidism causing hypertension. Both conditions can also affect bone and muscle health due to their weakening of them over time when untreated. People also commonly experience negative emotional symptoms from thyroid diseases, including anxiety and depression and some patients are recognized by their doctors as having emotional-only problems. These patients may be treated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications alone if their doctors do not recognize the need for thyroid function testing and their underlying disease will remain untreated. This can only result in a worsening of their thyroid dysfunction over time.
These are only some of the reasons Thyroid Awareness Month is important, so make sure to tell your family, friends and loved ones to get involved in basic education that will help them recognize when they may be experiencing a thyroid condition. They may also want to learn about common thyroid blood testing, hormone replacement therapy and other drugs for treating thyroid disorders.
While you're at it, direct them to the links in the "related links" area below this article, which can help them gain a basic understanding about thyroid diseases/disorders and symptoms.