With over 55 years of combined clinical experience, all of our therapists are equipped, fully qualified and registered with state regulatory bodies.
Thyroid Awareness Month – May
Thyroid Awareness Month
May is Thyroid Awareness month in Australia.
If you want to know more about thyroid conditions or you have been diagnosed and seek support there are support organisations nationally and in each state. Learn more at the Australian Thyroid Foundation’s website:
An overview of Thyroid conditions, symptoms and treatments.
Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that makes thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormone controls many activities in your body, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone. Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, you may often feel restless or tired, or you may lose or gain weight. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause. The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. This gland is found in the neck below the mouth (see number 3 in the picture below of the endocrine glands). The thyroid controls how quickly the body burns energy, makes proteins, and how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may do Blood tests. Testing the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and other thyroid indicators in your blood can help your doctor figure out if your thyroid is overactive or underactive. TSH tells your thyroid to make thyroid hormones. Depending on the results, your doctor might do another blood test to check levels of other thyroid hormones in your blood.
Hyper- and hypo-thyroidism affects about 2% of the population.
Hypothyroidism (underactivity) – Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. It is also called underactive thyroid. This slows down many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s disease. In people with Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. This attack damages the thyroid so that it does not make enough hormones.
Hypothyroidism also can be caused by:
- Hyperthyroidism treatment (radioiodine)
- Radiation treatment of certain cancers
- Thyroid removal
Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, including:
- Feeling cold when other people do not
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain, even though you are not eating more food
- Joint or muscle pain
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Feeling very tired
- Pale, dry skin
- Dry, thinning hair
- Slow heart rate
- Less sweating than usual
- A puffy face
- A hoarse voice
- More than usual menstrual bleeding
You also may have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can raise your risk for heart disease.
Hypothyroidism is treated with medicine that gives your body the thyroid hormone it needs to work normally. The most common medicines are man-made forms of the hormone that your thyroid makes. You will likely need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life. When you take the pills as your doctor tells you to, the pills are very safe.
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid, causes your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. This speeds up many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism and heart rate.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a problem with the immune system.
At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
- Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food (most but not all people lose weight)
- Eating more than usual
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat or pounding of your heart
- Feeling nervous or anxious
- Feeling irritable
- Trouble sleeping
- Trembling in your hands and fingers
- Increased sweating
- Feeling hot when other people do not
- Muscle weakness
- Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
- Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
- Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation
Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.
Your doctor’s choice of treatment will depend on your symptoms and the cause of your hyperthyroidism. Treatments include:
Antithyroid medicines block your thyroid from making new thyroid hormone. These drugs do not cause lasting damage to the thyroid.
Beta-blockers block the effects of thyroid hormone on your body. These medicines can be helpful in slowing your heart rate and treating other symptoms until one of the other forms of treatment can take effect. Beta-blockers do not reduce the amount of thyroid hormones that are made.
Radioiodine. This treatment kills the thyroid cells that make thyroid hormones. Often, this causes permanent hypothyroidism.
Surgery. Thyroid surgery removes most or all of the thyroid. This may cause permanent hypothyroidism.
There are a number of good websites in Australia dedicated to supporting and informing people with Thyroid Conditions. Your doctor is your first port of call should you suspect a thyroid condition.