Along with several other worthy causes, January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Awareness is the first step in understanding thyroid disease.
Did you know that approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease? It’s estimated that up to 60 percent of those people are unaware that they have a thyroid condition.
Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
For the past 10 years, my mom has suffered from the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. It’s a topic that she and several of her friends talk about. It seems that many women at a certain age struggle with thyroid issues. I didn’t really believe that it was just something that happens as you get older but when I looked into it there is a correlation.
Thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto’s Disease can manifest anytime. However, several studies of people over 65 years show that thyroid illness is very much a disease of the elderly and that it often goes undiagnosed. Thyroid issues are tough to diagnose older people because abnormalities can appear much different from the way they are supposed to.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders
- Intolerance to cold
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Poor appetite
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Dry, rough skin
- Coarse hair or hair loss
Looking at the top 10 symptoms of Thyroid Disease it’s understandable that it’s often undiagnosed or at least underdiagnosed. They are so common that they could be symptoms of several other conditions or simply effects of diet, lifestyle or even family background.
At this very moment, I could complain of three of the 10. I’m intolerant to cold. I do live in Minnesota and have never acclimated to the weather here. So, is that a symptom or simply a response to my environment. In this case probably the later. (As I write this article ist 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside).
I’ve gained a bit of weight this year. Again symptom or result of too much chocolate?
I have really thick, coarse hair. Always have, so how would I know if this was a new symptom?
Since several of my aunts on both my mother’s and father’s side either have or had a thyroid disease does that mean that I am destined to suffer? The answer? Possibly. Family history is a risk factor as is being female and caucasian. That’s three out of 5 but there are many other risk factors aswell.
Here are some of the risk factors
- Being female
- Being older than age 60
- Having a family history of thyroid disease
- Having a family history of autoimmune disease
- Being of Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
Diet and lifestyle are thought to play a positive role. If you eat real food and live a healthy lifestyle you can ward off a lot of things. Genetics? Maybe. Dr. Karen Wolfe has a great article on Epigenetics that talks about this in more detail.
As with anything health-related if you have a question or concerns visit your doctor. If you are not satisfied with their diagnosis, get a second opinion. It’s your health, take control.
Here are two additional resources that I find useful to better understand Thyroid Disease
Prime Therapeutic Article
Stop the Thyroid Madness
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