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Every year, the 25th May is recognised as World Thyroid Day, an international event for making people more aware of what the thyroid gland is, what thyroid conditions are and symptoms of them, the importance of diagnosis and treatment, but also the many things that we face as thyroid patients.
The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease, including 1 in 20 people in the UK, but as many as 60% are undiagnosed. And that’s far from ideal, which is why we should take these awareness events as a great opportunity to speak about it.
Also, around 8 times more women are affected than men, with key triggers being puberty, pregnancy and the menopause.
Could you or a friend or family member have a thyroid condition?
With these numbers, we have to encourage anyone with symptoms of a thyroid condition to get it checked out. But with a full thyroid panel. Not just TSH, but Free T3, Free T4, TPOAB, TGAB and Reverse T3 if possible, too. TSH alone doesn’t rule out a thyroid issue.
Although the thyroid gland is responsible for delivering crucial hormones that are needed for every function and cell of the body, when it misbehaves – causing issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism – it’s still not hugely recognised among the general population and people don’t tend to understand just how important this little gland is.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Condition
Symptoms for hypothyroidism include ongoing fatigue, muscle aches and pains, sensitivity to cold, depression, weight gain, sleep disturbances, low libido, dry skin, hair and nails and never feeling fully well.
Symptoms for hyperthyroidism include anxiety, palpitations, unexplained weight loss, flushes, irritability and sensitivity to heat.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer can include neck pain, hoarse voice, nodules and enlarged lymph nodes.
Symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease can include those mentioned above, including swinging test results and symptoms e.g. going through periods of better and worse health.
Why World Thyroid Day is Useful
For those of us already diagnosed with a thyroid condition, we can gain awareness this World Thyroid Day about how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, what other things besides just medication we can do to better our thyroid health and what tests we should ensure our doctors are doing.
We should also be aware of what results to look for, as many thyroid patients are being told that their levels are ‘fine’ or ‘normal’ yet they still having ongoing symptoms and complaints. I encourage all thyroid patients to be their own health advocate.
As well as educating others on this butterfly shaped gland, we should also take the time to educate ourselves! After all, knowledge is power and learning to advocate for ourselves gives us the best chance of recovering our health back to a good standard. See a list of thyroid websites here and some books here.
My book also 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.
There is also an online thyroid course which you can complete from your own home and computer. Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue helps you tackle low energy with a personalised approach.
World Thyroid Day is all about creating awareness of thyroid disease and disorders as a whole – for those going undiagnosed, for those going untreated or under-treated and for those feeling well like me, but can always learn some more about this far-reaching condition.
Do you have a thyroid condition?
Some helpful materials you can use to spread awareness:
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
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 authoring books, writing articles, her email newsletters, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology and The WEGO Health Patient Leader Advisory Board. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and many more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. She has authored two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.