Every year starts off the cycle of Health Awareness months with the subject of thyroid diseases, deficiencies and disorders.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that has a major impact on your body’s general health. It produces several hormones that affect how all other organs and cells function.
When things go wrong, it can produce a wide variety of diseases and disorders.
Thyroid dysfunction can have dozens of possible symptoms that vary widely and diagnosis can be difficult. If you have any indications that you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder, it’s essential that you start keeping detailed records, which will be a great help when you consult with your doctor.
What are the primary symptoms of thyroid disorders?
Actually, thyroid disorders fall into two distinct categories. On the one hand, there is the condition where the thyroid gland is producing lower than normal levels of the various hormones. The term for this is hypothyroidism. And for people suffering from thyroid deficiencies, the most common symptoms are cold hands and feet; dry skin; unexplained weight gain; tiredness; constipation; muscle cramps, aches and weakness; depression; and slowing down of movements.
On the other hand, if the thyroid is overactive and pumping out too much, the condition is known as hyperthyroidism. The most obvious symptom is goiter, which shows up as swelling in your neck from the enlarged thyroid gland, as well as swelling around the eyes. Other symptoms include diarrhea; unexplained weight loss; mood swings or nervousness; anxiety and irritability; sensitivity to temperature; difficulty sleeping resulting in tiredness and weakness; heart palpitations or irregular heart beat; and twitching or trembling.
How prevalent is thyroid disorder?
It’s estimated that around thirty million people in the US have some degree of thyroid dysfunction. However, less than half of these cases are diagnosed and treated.
Some of the information gained from analysis of statistics is that while anyone can be affected by thyroid dysfunction, women are five times more likely than men to develop some thyroid problem.
Can thyroid dysfunction or disorder be treated?
With a diagnosis in good time, there is every reason to believe that thyroid dysfunction can be successfully treated and you will go on to enjoy good health.
Hypothyroidism can be treated with medication like Synthroid (active ingredient: levothyroxine) or Cytomel (active ingredient: liothyronine). They are both prescription medicines used to treat the symptoms of low thyroid hormones.
For people with hyperthyroidism (elevated thyroid hormone levels), doctors can prescribe Tapazole or Mercaptizol (active ingredients: methimazole).
Why is Thyroid Awareness Month so important?
This month brings attention to a common but often overlooked condition that can end up causing serious problems, but that responds well to early treatment. It’s important to be able to identify the most common signs of thyroid problems and to get medical advice sooner rather than later. With thyroid dysfunction, getting treatment as soon as possible will give you a greater chance of living a longer and healthier life.
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