Estimate: 12 million Americans living with undiagnosed thyroid disease

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Thyroid function affects all parts of the body

The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Out of those 20 million, 60 percent are unaware of their condition.

Your thyroid is one of the glands that make up your endocrine system. The thyroid helps control hormones that affect all parts of your body.

The thyroid:

  • helps control body temperature
  • stimulates heart muscle contraction and increased heart rate
  • managing weight, energy and body heat generation
  • digestive tract regulation

Is there a problem with your thyroid?

Dr. Sherwin Yen, ADC Endocrinologist, says the most common thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism, or low thyroid levels. He says this conditions can be easily treated with daily thyroid hormone supplementation.

Dr. Yen also says it’s important to be properly diagnosed.

“Untreated hypothyroidism can result in worsening symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, joint and muscle aches,” said Dr. Yen. “In some instances hypothyroidism can be associated with irregular menstrual periods, infertility and worsened cholesterol profiles. In untreated hyperthyroidism patients are at risk for heart arrhythmias, low bone density, increased anxiety and diarrhea.”

Common signs you may have a thyroid issue include:

  • Fatigue, even after sleeping 8 to 10 hours
  • Weight gain or inability to gain weight
  • Joint pain or muscle pain
  • Hormonal imbalance – low sex drive, irregular periods, severe PMS
  • Constipation
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Poor concentration or memory loss
  • Neck pain or constant hoarseness

While these signs can reflect abnormal thyroid function, other medical conditions could also be the cause.

Your physician can run blood tests to check your thyroid levels. One of the initial tests that can be ordered is the thyroid-stimulating hormone, commonly known as TSH. Other blood tests can include T3 and T4 tests, thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) test and antithyroid antibody test (TPOab).  If your lab results come back abnormal, your primary care physician may refer you to an endocrinologist for further diagnosis and treatment options.

If you have been experiencing any combination of the common thyroid disease symptoms, contact your primary care physician to discuss your health.

Resources

American Thyroid Association
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases

Comments

  1. I’ve had low thyroid for years and my internist shrugged it off because it is still in the “normal” range! Well, obviously if I have the symptoms it’s too low for me.