HARRISBURG - January is Thyroid Awareness Month. However, thyroid disease continues to be often overlooked, misdiagnosed and insufficiently treated among the general population. Thyroid disease affects at least 30 million Americans and is seven times more common in women than men.
Additionally, because thyroid function is not checked by routine blood work performed during an annual physical, it can actually be the underlying cause behind weight gain, fatigue, depression, hair loss and high cholesterol in many individuals. Understanding thyroid disease and its signs and symptoms is the best way to help diagnose problems early.
About the Thyroid Gland and Thyroid Gland Conditions
The thyroid is a small gland shaped like a bow tie, located in the lower part of your neck. It secretes hormones which control your metabolism, the process by which the body converts oxygen and calories into energy. Thyroid conditions may include: Hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid and Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. Symptoms of Hypothyroidism may include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, depression, body pain and slow reflexes. Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism may include anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity and vision disturbances. A third thyroid condition is a goiter, a visible enlargement of the thyroid gland. Symptoms of a goiter may include a swollen and tender feeling in the neck or throat, hoarseness or coughing and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Thyroid testing is typically diagnosed through a blood test that measures the level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in blood. This test is not performed along with routine blood work unless your symptoms are suggestive of a potential thyroid condition.
Treatment of Thyroid Gland Conditions
Hypothyroidism is typically treated by replacing the thyroid hormone through an oral medication. Hyperthyroidism is typically treated by disabling the thyroid through surgery or administration of radioactive iodine (RI). A goiter is typically treated by thyroid replacement medications, medications to decrease inflammation such as aspirin or steroids, or surgical removal of the thyroid. If you are currently take medications for the treatment of thyroid conditions and have questions about any of your medications, your community pharmacist is a valuable resource.
Additional information about thyroid diseases and conditions, risks, symptoms and testing is available at www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com, or by talking to your physician. And always remember your community pharmacist is a valuable source for health information.
Founded in 1878, the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association is a professional membership organization of more than 2,000 pharmacists and pharmacy students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, representing almost all facets of pharmacy practice. As the leading voice of pharmacy in Pennsylvania, it promotes the profession through advocacy, education, and communication to enhance patient care and public health.