Did You Know That …

January is Thyroid Awareness Month?

In an earlier blog I mentioned that one treatable cause of dementia is thyroid deficiency. Thyroid deficiency is technically called hypothyroidism. But what is the thyroid? Where is it located? What does it do?

The thyroid is a gland located at the front of your throat slightly above the notch in your collar bone. The main function of the thyroid is to secrete hormones that regulate metabolism; how you use the energy from the food you eat. If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. If you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone.

Not enough thyroid causes your body to slow down its use of the energy from food. The symptoms may include weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, depression, female infertility and intolerance to cold. Too much thyroid causes your body to increase its use of the energy from food. The symptoms may include weight loss, insomnia, mood swings and intolerance to heat. Children born with hypothyroidism may have poor muscle tone, weight gain IN SPITE of eating poorly and a hoarse cry.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are more common in people over 60. Women are more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. Everyone, but especially women, should have a blood test for thyroid problems (screening test!) every five years beginning at age 35. Has your physician tested YOU for thyroid problems?

If your blood test shows too much or too little thyroid hormone, you will have more tests to determine the cause of the increase or decrease. Your treatment depends on what is causing the thyroid hormone imbalance. Treatment may include medication, radiation or surgery.

REMEMBER: no matter the cause, thyroid disease is treatable.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month!

For more information see Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/thyroiddiseases.html#cat8


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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