Did you know an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition? Thyroid disease comes in different forms – diseases of thyroid function or nodules on the thyroid gland. Sometimes the diseases of thyroid function symptoms can mirror those symptoms associated with stress or other conditions such as menopause in women and that’s why it occasionally goes undiagnosed.
More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. Anyone can develop thyroid disease, but women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
For diseases of thyroid function, the gland can produce too much thyroid hormone, which is called hyperthyroidism, or too little, which is called hypothyroidism.
Because thyroid hormone receptors are on tissues throughout the body the effects of thyroid hormone are felt throughout the body. Thyroid receptors are especially numerous and dense on heart, brain and muscle cells, so patients often have symptoms related to these tissues. A hypothyroid patient feels slow, cold, tired and under water; just the opposite of the hyperthyroid patient who may be jittery, anxious, has a fast heart rate, and/or hand tremors. Fatigue may be a symptom of either hyper or hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause.
Just as with hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause.
To diagnose if you have a thyroid function problem, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and run blood tests. Fortunately, there are tools to treat low and high thyroid states. Patients with hyperthyroidism are treated with medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery. Someone who has hypothyroidism is treated with synthetic thyroid hormone, which is taken every day.
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