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International Thyroid Awareness Week begins on May 25th 2022 and continues through to May 31st.
This worldwide, week-long event is a good opportunity to raise awareness of thyroid disease; how it affects people and also the signs and symptoms. It can useful in making more people aware so that we can get more diagnosed sooner.
In this way, we can avoid so many people living poor quality lives with thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s (the thyroid conditions my blog and thyroid advocacy work focuses on).
- The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease.
- Including at least 1 in 20 people in the UK and more than 12 percent of the U.S. population.
- Although as many as 60% are undiagnosed.
And of those diagnosed and on treatment, a lot still struggle with symptoms daily.
Could you or a your friend or family member have a thyroid condition?
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism Include:
- Sensitivity 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
- Period issues
- Brain fog/confusion/memory problems
- Hoarse voice
- A puffy 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
- 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
And Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism Include:
- Increased sweating
- Oversensitivity to heat
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry, thin skin
- Hair loss
- Change in sex drive
- Larger eyes
- Mood changes
- Dry or gritty eyes
- Double vision
- Weak, less define muscles
- Aches and pains
- Changes to menstrual cycle
- Infertility or problems conceiving
And with Hashimoto’s Disease, you may experience a mixture of these symptoms.
If you believe you may have a thyroid issue, make an appointment with your doctor and ensure they test a full thyroid panel to evaluate your thyroid status.
Your doctor may just run the TSH test, but it is important to be aware that this isn’t totally accurate on its own and the other components of the panel also need checking, especially if TSH comes back ‘normal’.
The full panel includes:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Thyroid peroxidase antibodies
- Thyroglobulin antibodies
Where Can I Order Testing From?
If your doctor won’t test you for a thyroid condition but you believe you may have one, or if they won’t run all the tests you need, you can explore ordering your own from online lab services.
To read my reviews of these services please see the below links:
Having a Thyroid Condition
Once on treatment for hypothyroidism, obtaining optimal thyroid hormone levels instead of just being ‘in range’ is important, as well as checking thyroid antibodies to check if the condition is autoimmune. It is for around 90% of us and can affect your treatment to get you back to feeling well again. For example, if you have autoimmune hypothyroidism, then steps can be taken to calm this autoimmune response and move it towards remission.
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 forth between normal and abnormal. You may also be told you are ‘only borderline’ hypothyroid, and it is important to know what this entails for you as well.
If you’ve just been diagnosed, check out these common FAQ’s and answers.
For those of us already diagnosed, we can gain awareness this week about how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, which supplements may help us and what tests we need to ensure our doctors are ordering. We should also be aware of what results we are aiming for.
The Big Thyroid Jigsaw Puzzle
I always describe treating and managing hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s as being like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
Each person may have different pieces to slot in to place before they can obtain good or even great health again with these conditions, but we have to work to find out what these are for each of us and share our own experiences.
We all need to embrace being our own thyroid health advocates and understanding our health condition, and this awareness month is a great opportunity for that. You can find my book on how I got my thyroid health back on track by discovering all these puzzle pieces, on Amazon, here.
I also wrote a book with my husband around how hypothyroidism can affect relationships. View ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism’ on Amazon here.
An important part of awareness events is using them to raise awareness of the condition/s to those who don’t have them. Please see a list of articles you may wish to share with those around you, below.
- What is hypothyroidism?
- What’s Hashimoto’s?
- How do you treat Hashimoto’s?
- What supplements should I consider?
- Any books I can read?
- Any support groups I can join?
- What is the endocrine system?
- What is the best diet for hypothyroidism?
- Will I ever feel ‘normal’ again?
For many thyroid patients, they are also still living with lingering symptoms, despite being on treatment for their condition, so delving deeper into why is something you can do this month. You can live a good quality life with hypothyroidism.
We can also share any resources we’ve found to be helpful, for example, I would suggest all hypothyroid patients to check out those listed here.
Are you raising awareness of thyroid disease this week?
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.✨ Like this article? Follow Rachel on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest for more great thyroid content. ✨
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.