Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month

"If your thyroid isn't working properly, neither are you."

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, which is sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).  We must remember that thyroid disease commonly affects people, as well as our cats and dogs. The AACE also estimates that approximately 30 million Americans may be affected by thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer) — with half of these cases currently undiagnosed.

In humans, the thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland found immediately below the Adam’s apple. This gland produces hormones that influence every organ, tissue and cell in your body. If thyroid disease is left untreated, there are serious consequences including elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.

Testing for thyroid disease is easy, although not routinely included in an annual physical blood work. However, the diagnosis of thyroid disease can sometimes be challenging. Patients often present with vague, general clinical manifestations that may not be obvious to either the doctor or patient. Understanding the facts about thyroid disease and its symptoms is the best defense in diagnosing and treating thyroid disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease In Humans?

The following are some of the symptoms of various thyroid conditions and diseases.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism (i.e., an underactive thyroid) tend to mirror the slowing down of physical processes that result from insufficient thyroid hormone. Common symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and much more.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism (i.e., an overactive thyroid) tend to reflect the rapid metabolism that results from an oversupply of thyroid hormone. Common symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity or bulging, and vision disturbances.

Thyroid Nodules or Goiter
Symptoms of goiter — an enlarged thyroid gland— include a swollen, tender or tight feeling in the neck or throat, hoarseness or coughing, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. Sometimes, the goiter is visible to yourself or others.

Some thyroid nodules cause no symptoms, while others may cause difficulty swallowing, a feeling of fullness, pain or pressure in the neck, a hoarse voice, or neck tenderness. Some nodules trigger hyperthyroid-like symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, weight loss, anxiety, and tremors. Nodules can also trigger hypothyroidism, and symptoms might include weight gain, fatigue, and depression.

Thyroid Cancer
Although many patients are asymptomatic at first, possible symptoms of thyroid cancer include a lump in the neck, voice changes, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or lymph node swelling.

Symptoms of thyroiditis typically include pain and tenderness in the thyroid area, neck and throat, difficulty sleeping. Thyroiditis may also trigger traditional hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms. 

Where To Get More Information?

For more information on thyroid disease and/or to find a medical expert in thyroid conditions, please visit the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. The AACE’s Thyroid Awareness website also features articles, videos and FAQ on thyroid conditions.

For a detailed description of various thyroid disorders in human patients, including hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, multinodular goiter, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer, I'd strongly recommend that you visit the Thyroid Disease Manager Website.

Thyroid Disease Manager offers an up-to-date analysis of all aspects of human thyroid disease and thyroid physiology. It provides physicians, researchers, and patients from around the world with an authoritative, current, complete, objective, free, and down-loadable source on the thyroid and its diseases.

Useful Links:
  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) website —
  • AACE's Thyroid Awareness website —
  • Thyroid Disease Manager website —

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