Thyroid Awareness Month 2019

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January is Thyroid Awareness Month. A month dedicated to talking about thyroid disease – the conditions and symptoms, importance of diagnosis and treatment, but also the many issues we face as thyroid patients.

A black and cream striped butterfly

Many don’t get the treatment or testing they need and the results can be shocking. Mental health problems, inability to remain in employment, breakdown of relationships, infertility and even death. I’ve heard from countless others who became suicidal.

We have a lot of progress to make in how we are treated medically, but if the general public can understand the effects of thyroid disease just a little bit more, even that would be helping us out a lot.

What you should know:

Symptoms are far reaching as thyroid hormone is needed for every cell and function in the body.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

And symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Increased sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Oversensitivity to heat
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry, thin skin
  • Hair loss
  • Shakiness/trembling
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Larger eyes
  • Mood changes
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry or gritty eyes
  • Double vision
  • Weak, less define muscles
  • Aches and pains
  • Changes to menstrual cycle
  • Infertility or problems conceiving

Could you or a friend or family member have a thyroid condition?

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 just the TSH test first, but it is important to know that this isn’t entirely accurate on its own and the other components of the panel also need checking, especially if TSH comes back ‘normal’.

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.

Medichecks is a popular place in the UK, where you can order the all important thyroid function testReverse T3 and thyroid antibodies to check for autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s).

LetsGetChecked cover most countries, and offer the thyroid function testHashimoto’s testing and many more, all from the comfort of your own home.

Ensuring that you are treated with the aim of reaching optimal levels is important, as well as checking thyroid antibodies for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s and Graves. It is also important to note that having Hashimoto’s can cause results to move up and down. You could also be told you’re only borderline’ hypothyroid, but if you’re feeling very unwell, a trial of thyroid medication can be given to see if it helps.

Friends and family of those with hypothyroidism should know that whilst a good quality of life can be achieved with a thyroid condition, many go on to live a forever-altered life. It can be classed as a disability. See my category for those who know someone with a thyroid condition here, and my book for our friends and family here.

For many thyroid patients, they still live with symptoms and effects of their thyroid condition, despite being on medication for it, so delving deeper in to why is something you can do this month. You can live a good quality life with hypothyroidism.

We should also share helpful resources and materials to enable one another to make progress in their thyroid health. I wrote my first book, Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired” with that in mind.

The book compiles all the information you need to begin advocating for your own health, in one place and in an easy to digest format. It is a great place to begin when learning to advocate for your own thyroid health. 

Fun Theo The Thyroid plushies can also be used to raise awareness this month.

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.

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 month concerning how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, what supplements may help us and what tests we need. We should also be aware of what results we are looking for.

When you hear ‘Thyroid Condition’ used by a comedian as an ‘excuse for being overweight’, don’t laugh. Don’t belittle the pain and struggles we go through. We wouldn’t wish it upon anybody!

Will you be taking part in this event?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Some helpful materials you can use to spread awareness:

A Letter: To Family and Friends of those suffering with Graves Disease

An Open Letter to Friends, Family, Work Colleagues and Doctors of Those with an Underactive Thyroid/Hypothyroidism.

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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