What brings a lump to your throat? Common disease symptoms are focus of Thyroid Month


Among the easiest diseases to diagnose and treat are common disorders of the thyroid gland - and yet an estimated 1.5 million Canadians are unaware that symptoms they are experiencing, such as weight gain or loss, depression, forgetfulness, and fatigue may be caused by a dysfunctional thyroid.  To mark Thyroid Month in June, the Thyroid Foundation of Canada is implementing a nationwide program to inform Canadians about the signs and symptoms of thyroid disorders.

Consequences of untreated thyroid disorders include heart disease, clinical depression, osteoporosis and infertility. In pregnant women, an untreated thyroid disease may increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, learning disabilities and other developmental problems in children.

Mabel Miller, National President of the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, said: "Symptoms of the most common thyroid disorders tend to be general in nature - such as changes in weight, fatigue, depression, and sensitivity to cold or to heat. Some people experiencing these symptoms may endure them without consulting a doctor or, if they do consult their doctor, do not report all the symptoms.

"As a result," she added, "their thyroid disorders may go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed. So it's a good idea, if you are experiencing one or more symptoms, to tell your doctor."

Miller explained that thyroid disorders are diagnosed by means of a simple, quick blood test - the Thyroid Hormone Stimulating (TSH) test - which a doctor may order at the request of a patient.  It is recommended that all men and women be tested for thyroid disorders beginning at age 35 years and every five years thereafter.

The Thyroid Gland The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that lies below the Adam's apple.

It produces hormones that regulate growth, maturation and the speed of metabolism and, as such, is one of the most important glands in the body.

Common thyroid diseases An under-active thyroid gland does not produce sufficient hormones (hypothyroidism). This causes one's metabolism to slow down and may lead to fatigue, weight gain, constipation and depression.

An over-active thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) over-produces hormones. This causes one's metabolism to speed up and may lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss, heat intolerance, and palpitations.

Hypothyroidism usually is treated with thyroid replacement therapy in order to return hormone levels to normal.  Hyperthyroidism may be treated with radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid drugs, or surgery.

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