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Thyroid Awareness Month 2020

Thyroid Awareness Month 2020
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TW: Mental health, suicide

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 often face as thyroid patients.

Rachel Thinking as She Looks Out to a Lake

Many people with thyroid conditions, especially hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, do not get the treatment or testing they need to get better and the effects of this can be shocking. Mental health problems, struggling to remain in employment, the breakdown of relationshipsinfertility and even death. I’ve heard from countless people who became suicidal or had family members who tragically acted on these feelings due to an undiagnosed or inadequately treated thyroid condition.

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 progress.

Did You Know: 

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

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Include:

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease 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, 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. These are accurate and simple to use.

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

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

Diagnosed? Get The Right Treatment For You

Ensuring that you are treated with the aim of reaching optimal thyroid hormone 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, therefore, you may see moving results. You may also be told that you ‘only have a borderline’ thyroid issue, but if you’re feeling very unwell, a trial of treatment 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. We can live a good quality life with hypothyroidism.

You can also read about how I got my Hashimoto’s in to remission here. We all need to embrace being our own thyroid health advocate. You can find my book on how I did this too, here.

We can also share helpful resources and materials to enable one another to make progress in their thyroid health. I wrote my first bookBe 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. 

Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate Book Girl Holding

We can also share any resources we’ve found to be helpful, for example, I would suggest all hypothyroid patients to check out the websites and books 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 and what other things (besides taking medication) can help us to manage our thyroid condition.

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 raising awareness?

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.

About Author

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".

1 Comment

  • Caz / InvisiblyMe
    January 6, 2020 at 10:12 am

    I love that you’ve included the myriad of possible symptoms because there really are so many that can be overlooked or that can overlap with other conditions, and given how tests can be very poor (esp challenging for those in the UK it would seem) diagnosis isn’t easy. Fantastic post for Awareness Month, Rachel! x

    Reply

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