"Some experts estimate that as many as 59 million Americans have thyroid problems, but the majority of thyroid sufferers haven't been diagnosed yet."
(PRWEB) January 12, 2010
It's January. Do you know where your thyroid is? This is the question that millions of Americans should be asking themselves this month.
Since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, patient advocate and author Mary Shomon has launched the new campaign, "It's January...Do you know where your thyroid is," to focus attention on the millions of undiagnosed and untreated people with thyroid disease.
The thyroid is the master gland of metabolism and energy. And when it doesn't work properly, women and men of all ages can experience symptoms including weight gain, exhaustion, high cholesterol, depression...even a low sex drive.
That's why there's no better time than now, according to Shomon, to find out where the thyroid is, and whether it's working properly.
Says Shomon, "Even with the efforts of the past decade, we still have a long way to go in terms of thyroid awareness. People are struggling with obesity, depression, infertility, menopausal symptoms, low libido, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and many other issues. These can all be symptoms of a thyroid conditio., and yet the majority of Americans have never even had a thorough thyroid checkup. Proper diagnosis could mean that millions of people discover that their symptoms are actually due to overlooked and untreated thyroid problems!"
To help undiagnosed thyroid sufferers finally get the help they need, Shomon, the New York Times best-selling author of "The Thyroid Diet" and a number of popular patient-directed books, web sites, and thyroid newsletters, has put together a comprehensive Thyroid Awareness Month campaign for January 2010, including a video at Youtube, an informative website, a free downloadable Ebook, and a Facebook social networking page, all designed to help educate and empower people with thyroid information.
The campaign's website is located at http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com online.
The free ebook, titled "The Thyroid Awareness Month Guide to Thyroid Disease," is available for download as a PDF at http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/ebook.htm at the campaign's website. The Youtube video is online at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfFLVAunXRA and social networking is featured at http://www.facebook.com/pages/January-is-Thyroid-Awareness-Month/237861422687 at Facebook.
What Can Go Wrong With the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small gland, located in the neck, and the hormone it produces controls the delivery of oxygen and energy to every cell in the body. Without a fuel pump, a car won't go, because gasoline can't get into the engine, and similarly, if the thyroid isn't functioning properly, the body won't go, because oxygen and energy can't get into cells, tissues and organs.
Many people have heard dumb jokes about people with thyroid problems, suggesting that "thyroid" is just a lame excuse for being overweight, but thyroid disease is no joke. Thyroid hormone is essential for life.
The most common thyroid problem is insufficient thyroid hormone, known as hypothyroidism, "low thyroid" or an underactive thyroid. Without enough thyroid hormone, one can gain weight, lose energy, become depressed and exhausted, lose hair and sex drive, even find it hard to remember things or concentrate.
Sometimes, the thyroid can go into overdrive, and produce too much thyroid hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. With too much thyroid hormone flooding the body, heart rate and blood pressure can go up, and anxiety, tremors, panic attacks, diarrhea, muscle weakness, eye problems, insomnia, and rapid weight loss are all common.
The thyroid can also get enlarged (known as a goiter), develop lumps (known as nodules), and in some cases, those lumps can even be cancerous. Thyroid cancer is, in fact, one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States.
The Thyroid Awareness Month site features key information about thyroid disease, including:
- About the Thyroid Gland -- http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/thyroid-gland.htm
- Thyroid Diseases and Conditions -- http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/thyroid-conditions.htm
- Thyroid Disease Risks/Symptoms Checklist - http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/thyroid-symptoms.htm
- Thyroid Testing/ Diagnosis - http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/thyroid-tests.htm
- Thyroid Links -- http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/thyroid-links.htm
1. Do You Know That You Should Always Rule Out a Thyroid Problem?
Thyroid disease is often overlooked, or blamed on things like age and lifestyle, because the symptoms are common. It's actually shocking how often doctors do not test for thyroid, when it could be the cause of symptoms and condition. For example:
- Doctors may recommend weight loss surgery to people who are overweight and unable to lose weight despite diet and exercise, rather than ruling out a thyroid problem.as a possible cause of the weight problems
- Some women receive costly and invasive assisted reproduction treatments for infertility or recurrent miscarriage, and their doctors have never ruled out a thyroid problem as the cause of the infertility
- Doctors frequently prescribe an antidepressant, or a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, instead of testing for hypothyroidism, which can cause depression and elevated cholesterol
- Women who have just had a baby and are exhausted, depressed, losing hair, or having trouble breastfeeding are frequently told that these are normal symptoms after pregnancy, instead of being tested for "postpartum" thyroid disease
- Millions of women are offered hormone treatments to manage erratic periods or hot flashes, when thyroid problems -- not perimenopause or menopause -- may be the actual cause of the symptoms.
- Patients continue to struggle with panic attacks, muscle aches/joint pains, hair loss, puffiness, constipation, and low sex drive, and many doctors never bother to test for the underlying problems that could be causing these symptoms.
KEY TIP: Don't assume that an annual physical or blood work includes thyroid evaluation or blood tests, because most do not.
2. Do You Know What Tests to Ask For?
Many people have been told by the doctor, "We've tested your thyroid, and it's normal."
The public needs to be aware, however, that this is not enough information, and does not mean that a thyroid problem has been definitively ruled out.
Many doctors rely on the TSH -- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone -- as their go-to test for thyroid disease. Sadly, however, doctors can't even agree as to what levels are normal for the TSH test! Some endocrinologists and physicians are behind the times, and believe that .5 to 5.5 is the normal level. (This is the range that most labs use as well.) Other physicians believe that levels above 2.5 are evidence of a thyroid condition and warrant treatment. With MILLIONS of people falling into that limbo -- a TSH between 2.5 and 5.5 -- there are many undiagnosed people with thyroid problems out there who are being told "your thyroid is normal" solely on the basis of a TSH test.
Forward-thinking doctors also don't just test TSH, they test Free T4, Free T3, and autoimmune thyroid antibodies to get a more complete picture of thyroid function.
Says Shomon, "If your doctor is using the old 0.5 to 5.5 TSH range, ignores your symptoms and relies only on the TSH test, or doesn't understand the value of testing Free T4, Free T3, and thyroid antibodies, then it's time to get a more knowledgeable doctor who can properly diagnose and treat your thyroid condition."
KEY TIP: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and thyroid antibodies tests, as well as a full clinical thyroid examination, are needed before thyroid disease can be ruled out.
3. Do You Know Where to Find a Great Doctor Who "Gets" Thyroid Disease?
Doctors love to say "thyroid disease is easy to diagnose and easy to treat," but this mantra doesn't seem to bear out in reality. When it comes to diagnosing and treating thyroid problems, for example, practitioners fall into one of two camps.
First are the conventional endocrinologists and physicians, who believe that symptoms are irrelevant, and that thyroid problems should be diagnosed solely by looking at the results of the TSH test, and that hypothyroidism should be treated solely with the synthetic thyroid medication levothyroxine (i.e., Synthroid), and hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid must be permanently disabled with radioactive iodine (RAI) right away, causing hypothyroidism. These doctors are most concerned with normalizing thyroid blood test results, and don't care particularly whether or not symptoms are relieved, or what additional problems develop as a result of treatments.
Second are the integrative physicians, some endocrinologists, gynecologists and hormone experts, and holistic practitioners who believe that thyroid problems are diagnosed by actually practicing medicine. That means, evaluating symptoms, performing a clinical exam, taking a medical history, and performing various blood tests. These practitioners also believe that treating thyroid disease means finding the best treatment that can safely resolve symptoms. These practitioners are frequently open to treating hypothyroidism with the addition of T3 medications like Cytomel or time-released T3, or prescription of natural desiccated thyroid like Nature-throid or Armour, in lieu of levothyroxine. For hyperthyroid patients, they may choose a course of antithyroid drugs rather than suggesting a "rush to RAI."
Says Shomon, "I recommend patients initially find an endocrinologist for diagnosis, treatment and followup of thyroid cancer, Graves' disease and evaluation of nodules. But for properly diagnosing, treating and managing hypothyroidism, many patients find a holistic/integrative practitioner, GP, gynecologist, or other doctor who has taken a personal interest in treating thyroid patients to be a more effective choice."
KEY TIP: The free online "Thyroid Top Doctors Directory" at http://www.thyroid-info.com/topdrs features a state-by-state and country-specific listing of doctors who have been highly recommended by thyroid patients in their care.
4. Do You Know Where You Can Download a Free Ebook on Thyroid Disease?
"The Thyroid Awareness Month Guide to Thyroid Disease: 2010 Edition" is a free ebook from Mary Shomon, available for download at http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/ebook.htm online. The ebook explains more about the thyroid and its function, and looks at common thyroid diseases and conditions, including hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), autoimmune thyroid disease, goiter/enlargement, nodules/lumps, thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer. The ebook features a detailed list of risk factors, signs and symptoms of thyroid disease, along with information thyroid blood tests, diagnosis and treatment. Finally, links to key thyroid-related websites, and resources to help stay informed, are included. This free ebook is available at http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/ebook.htm in PDF format.
About Mary Shomon
Mary Shomon is the nation's leading thyroid patient advocate. She is author of 10 popular books on health, including New York Times best-selling "The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss," "The Menopause Thyroid Solution: Overcome Menopause by Solving Your Hidden Thyroid Problem," "The Thyroid Hormone Breakthrough: Overcoming Sexual and Hormonal Problems at Every Age," "Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know," "The Thyroid Guide to Hair Loss," "Living Well With Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism," "Living Well With Autoimmune Disease," and "Living Well With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia." Shomon is founder and editor of a popular thyroid website, http://www.Thyroid-Info.com, and edits an email and print newsletter and magazine for thyroid patients , "Sticking Out Our Necks: Thyroid Report." Since 1997, Shomon has also served as the Guide to Thyroid Disease at About.com, at http://thyroid.about.com. About.com is a New York Times Company. More information on Mary Shomon and thyroid disease is online at http://www.thyroid-info.com and http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com -- two of Shomon's advocacy sites. Shomon is also founder of the Save Natural Thyroid Coalition -- http://www.savenaturalthyroid.com -- a group formed to help legitimize and protect patients' rights to prescription natural desiccated thyroid drugs,. Shomon is active in social networking to connect thyroid patients, and thousands of patients follow Mary Shomon on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MarySho, and connect with her via her ThyroidMary postings at http://www.twitter.com/ThyroidMary on Twitter.