International Thyroid Awareness Week 2017 begins on May 22nd and continues through to May 28th. This year’s campaign is highlighting the similarities between the symptoms of thyroid disorders and the effects of today’s fast-paced lifestyles, and the tendency for people to blame themselves for the symptoms of the condition through the ‘It’s not you. It’s your Thyroid’ campaign.
This year’s International Thyroid Awareness Week campaign, ‘It’s not you. It’s your Thyroid’, reveals that many women may be blaming themselves and their lifestyle choices for symptoms like weight changes, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue, not realising that a thyroid disorder could actually be the underlying cause.
Merck, in partnership with Thyroid Federation International (TFI), commissioned an international survey of women in seven countries in time for International Thyroid Awareness Week 2017. The survey found that nearly half (49%) of respondents had blamed their lifestyle choices for feeling restless or having difficulty sleeping, while 40% blamed lifestyle choices for feeling depressed, anxious, and tired. In reality, these may be common symptoms of a thyroid disorder. This tendency to blame symptoms of lifestyle choices could be further exacerbated by the fact that almost a quarter (23%) of respondents could recall telling a friend or loved one to accept feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable as part of life, while 19% of respondents could recall telling them to accept feeling tired or sluggish every day.
As this site focuses on hypothyroidism, symptoms of the condition include:
- Sensitiviy to cold/heat
- Weight gain, inability to lose weight
- Constipation/wind often
- Slow movements, speech and thoughts
- Itchy and/or sore scalp
- Muscle cramps, aches, pains and weakness
- Poor appetite
- Dry and tight feeling skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Loss of libido
- Pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand, fingers and limbs (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Irregular periods or heavy periods
- Brain fog/confusion/memory problems
- Hoarse voice
- A puffy-looking face
- Thinned or partly missing eyebrows or eyelashes
- A slow heart rate or one that increases more so than a healthy person’s, after physical activity (e.g. after walking up the stairs or emptying the washing machine)
- Anaemia or other vitamin deficiencies
- Poor stamina
- The need to nap more than others
- Long recovery period after any activity
- Inability to exercise, or withstand certain exercises
- Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Being overly emotional
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor circulation
- High or rising cholesterol
- Acid reflux
- Hair loss
- Easy bruising
- Swollen legs that impede walking
- Shin splints
- Difficulty standing on feet
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Fertility issues
If you believe it could be possible that you have a thyroid issue, please make an appointment with your doctor and have them run a full thyroid panel.
Your doctor may wish to just run the TSH test first, but it is important to know that this isn’t accurate on its own and the other components of the panel also need checking, especially if TSH comes back ‘normal’.
Optimal levels are important, as well as checking thyroid antibodies for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s and Graves Disease. It is also important to note that having Hashimoto’s can cause results to move up and down as if you’re changing from hypo to hyper, or back and fourth between normal and abnormal. You could also be told you’re ‘only borderline’ hypothyroid.
For those of us already diagnosed, we can gain awareness this month about how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, what vitamins may help us and what tests we need to ensure our doctors are doing on us. We should also be aware of what results we are looking for.
We can also share any resources we’ve found to be helpful, for example, I would suggest all hypothyroid patients to follow the organisations recommended here.
Some helpful materials you can use to spread awareness:
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
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Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, and is a qualified Diet and Nutritional Advisor, also currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.