Thyroid disease explained Thursday night

In support of Thyroid Disease Awareness Month, this common, yet often undiagnosed, condition will be discussed at a free health education session Thursday, 19 January at The Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Steve Tomlinson will deliver this presentation, starting at 7pm.

‘Thyroid disorders are usually treatable; however, untreated thyroid disease can produce serious results in other parts of the body. Understanding more about the thyroid, and the symptoms that occur when something goes wrong with this small gland, can help you protect or regain good health,’ Dr. Tomlinson said.

The thyroid gland is a small gland at the base of the neck, he explained. It weighs only about 25 grams, yet the hormones it secretes are essential to all growth and metabolism.

The gland regulates all body functions.

‘There are many types of thyroid disease; however, the most common conditions are hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

‘Thyroid disease is of particular concern to women, who are five to eight times more likely than men to be diagnosed with the condition,’ he said.

According to the American Thyroid Association, nearly one out of 50 women in the US is diagnosed with an under-active thyroid during pregnancy, and six out of every 100 miscarriages can be associated with thyroid deficiency during pregnancy.

The elderly are also at increased risk for the disease. By age 60, as many as 17 per cent of women and nine per cent of men have an under active thyroid.

‘There may be emotional reactions to thyroid illness,’ Dr. Tomlinson explained.

‘Hyperthyroid patients often feel unusually nervous or irritable. Hypothyroid patients can feel unusual fatigue or depression.

‘It is important for thyroid patients and their families to understand that these reactions are common and likely to resolve with treatment.

‘It is also important to realize that some thyroid disorders develop very gradually. Since symptoms may not be easily recognized at first, subtle reactions in emotions or behaviour may be the only visible signs of thyroid disorder in the beginning stages,’ he said.

According to ATA guidelines, patients need to be screened for thyroid disease with a TSH test once they reach 35, or if they present with any symptoms or risk factors associated with thyroid disease such as fatigue, mood swings, forgetfulness, weight gain, depression, and dry, coarse skin and hair.

Once diagnosed with thyroid disease, a TSH test should be conducted regularly for optimal observation of treatment.

‘I hope this presentation will help individuals be better equipped in alerting their physicians to a suspected thyroid condition that may otherwise be difficult to diagnose, particularly in the early stages,’ Dr. Tomlinson said.

To register for this education session, contact CTMH at 949 6066.

FYI

Signs and symptoms of thyroid conditions:

Hypothyroidism:

Fatigue and weakness

Low basal temperature (cold intolerance)

Dry and coarse skin

Hair loss

Cold hands and feet

Weight gain

Insomnia

Constipation

Depression

Poor memory, forgetfulness, dementia

Nervousness and tremors

Immune system problems

Heavy menstrual periods

Hyperthyroidism:

Fatigue and weakness

Heat intolerance

Dry and coarse skin, clammy skin

Hair loss

Warm hands and feet

Weight loss

Insomnia

Depression

Poor memory, forgetfulness

Nervousness and tremors

Immune system problems

Light menstrual periods

Each person’s experience of thyroid illness differs depending on a number of factors; a patient will not necessarily have all the above symptoms. A physician should be consulted if thyroid illness is suspected.

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