The month of May is Thyroid Awareness Month and the theme for 2019 is “Be aware of your Thyroid”. Australia has shown that around 14% of older Australians suffer from a clinically relevant thyroid disorder with 4% having an undiagnosed thyroid disorder. Recent smaller studies have shown that approximately 10% of pregnant women in Australia suffer from mild hypothyroidism (subclinical) secondary to autoimmune thyroid disease. This is thus an important opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of thyroid disorders on those living with the condition.
What is the Thyroid Gland?
The Thyroid Gland is a soft, small bow-shaped gland, located in the front of the neck, below the voice box or larynx (Adam’s Apple) on either side of the trachea (windpipe).
What does the Thyroid Gland do?
The healthy Thyroid Gland uses ingested iodine from iodine enriched foods to produce thyroid hormone which regulates body and brain growth and development, body temperature, energy levels and metabolic functions. (the rate at which the body produces and uses energy from nutrients and oxygen). Thyroid hormones influence and regulate the activity of all cells and tissues in the body.
What happens when there is an issue with the thyroid gland?
If the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormone, this is known as Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, which causes the body’s metabolic functions to slow down, resulting in many different adverse effects on bodily functions.
If the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, this is known as Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, which causes the body’s metabolic functions to speed up causing adverse effects opposite to hypothyroidism. This is also often called thyrotoxicosis.
Think you may have a thyroid disorder-what to do:
VISIT YOUR GP
Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, you may often feel restless or tired, or you may lose or gain weight. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause.
Thyroid Disorders can be difficult to diagnose, due to many symptoms being similar to those of other medical conditions.
The Australian Thyroid Foundation recommend diagnosis using biochemical testing (serum TSH, T4, T3 and Thyroid Antibodies). A thyroid ultrasound is essential to determine the structure of the gland and define any physical abnormalities within the gland. If further testing is required your treating doctor may order additional screening with radionuclide scans or CT to determine an accurate diagnosis.
Speak to your doctor about your symptoms, your family history, if any member of your family has an Autoimmune Disease, Thyroid Disease or Cancer.
If you have any concerns, please see your GP. “Be aware of your Thyroid” this month, the team at Providence Medical are here to support you and your family in health and wellness.