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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Thyroid Awareness Month

I found out on the 31st that January was Thyroid Awareness Month. Since I recently have been undergoing thyroid testing and ultrasounds and seeing an endocrinologist, it hit close to home. Thankfully, my thyroid hormones are off, but my body is adapting on its own and I don't really have any issues. Whew!

Since my levels continue to be up and down and because I have a couple minuscule nodules, I will be on annual blood checks and ultrasounds to make sure nothing changes over time. What I really became aware of from my experiences was how little my family and friends really know about the thyroid and thyroid disease. And if they don't know and I didn't know--my guess is that you don't know either.

First, a little information about your thyroid:
The thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck, which produces hormones that regulate many functions including temperature, weight gain, and weight loss. Many Americans experience various problems with the functioning of their thyroid.

The best source for information that I found on the web is the site Thyroid Awareness Month. The one paragraph that caught my attention the most was this:
"...experts believe as many as 59 million Americans have
thyroid problems, it turns out that the majority of you who have a thyroid
problem don't even know it yet!. You haven't been diagnosed. You're not being
treated. You may not even know what or where the thyroid is!

Your thyroid is actually your master gland of metabolism
and energy. And if it's not working properly, you can suffer from a long list of
health problems -- everything from weight problems, to fatigue, to high
cholesterol, to depression...even a low sex drive!"

There are a host of possible problems related to an improperly functioning thyroid. If your thyroid is overactive, it's called hyperthyroidism. A few of the red flag signs to look for include:

  • Heart palpitations; accelerated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • A feeling of being too warm all the time
  • Nervousness and trembling
  • Insomnia despite feeling exhausted
  • Breathlessness
  • Light or absent menstrual periods; infertility
  • Weight loss
  • Heightened anxiety, irritability, moodiness or depression

If your thyroid is underactive, it's called hypothyroidism. A few of the red flag signs to look for include:

  • A yellowish tint to the skin
  • Slow body movements
  • Cold skin and/or the inability to tolerate cold
  • Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak
  • Memory problems, depression, or difficulty concentrating.
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

If you have any other questions about your thyroid or what to do in seeking testing and treatment, I recommend you check out the web. There's a host of information (some good, some bad) but you can learn the basics. I did find a free ebook that you can download. The Thyroid Awareness Month Guide to Thyroid Disease: 2010 Edition is a free ebook from Mary Shomon, available for download at online.

Have annual blood draws and make sure you take care of your thyroid!


Angela said...

What a fantastic post! Ok...I had no idea that January was Thyroid Awareness Month. I am Hypothyroid. Mine is the full blown Hashimoto's Disease and I have to take Synthroid for the rest of my life. I also have to have my levels checked quite often and/or if I'm feeling it. All the symptoms that you listed...that was right on! I can't remember if I shared about my thyroid issue or not. I will dig through my posts and if not... well... it's probably time to share. LOL I'll link back to your post since it's what lit the fire under my butt to leave this very long comment. LOL :]

Anonymous said...
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Coolestmommy said...

Had NO idea about your thyroid issues. I just met another gal last night who is also on Synthroid for life.

So glad it's sparking you, too. I was searching for something else and ran across the Thyroid Awareness Month site. I just knew I had to post it!

Thanks for commenting--I truly hope it helps others!

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