When you talk about thyroid diseases the common things you will hear are goiter, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. These are all disorders of the thyroid that we Filipinos are familiar with but sadly, have no better understanding what thyroid is all about.
According to a research study conducted by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in 2012, for every 11 Filipino adults there is one individual who has goiter, and one in 12 adult Filipinos is afflicted with some form of thyroid disorder.
In a media event dubbed as “Unmasking Your Thyroid” held last September 21 at the Holiday Inn Makati, Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus, Jr., president of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, a professor in the UP College of Medicine and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, rendered a valuable talk on what thyroid is and further discussed health issues related to thyroid.
This Merck Inc. Philippines sponsored event is geared towards raising awareness about an important body organ which is the thyroid. With millions of Filipinos affected by thyroid diseases, the information available is very limited to the public.
With low awareness, common symptoms for a thyroid disease are often mistaken for other diseases or are simply ignored by people who are afflicted with the thyroid disease.
What is thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped tiny gland located at the lower part of the neck near the base. Its primary role is to produce thyroid hormone that controls many functions in the body. The functions of thyroid hormone include facilitating metabolic speed or how quickly the body can burn calories, and regulating how fast the heart should beat.
What happens when the thyroid produces little or too much hormone?
Deficiency or having an overload of the thyroid hormone could manifest in several symptoms of thyroid diseases such as feeling tired most of the time, weight loss or gain, constipation, muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, abnormal heartbeats and even restlessness- just to name a few. Unfortunately for women, thyroid diseases are prevalent to female patients than male.
Women and her thyroid:
According to statistics women are more prone to thyroid diseases than men. And 1 out of 8 women will encounter some thyroid related issue in her lifetime. It is best for all women to become aware of her thyroid and how this small organ can affect her body.
- Problems with menstrual cycle. The thyroid gland is directly involved in regulating menstrual cycle. Too little or too much of the hormone can affect menstruation causing irregularities such as light or heavy periods. For women, thyroid diseases could also cause issues with the duration of the menstruation. It’s either menstrual cycle can be too short, prolonged or may skip several months which is a condition called amenorrhea. Early menopause before the age of 40 could also be a result of a thyroid disease due to a problem with the body’s immune system.
- Some thyroid diseases affect chances of pregnancy. Any of diseases of the thyroid will affect menstrual cycle thus affecting ovulation in the process. The ability of the female body to ovulate regularly is impaired affecting pregnancy in the process.
- Thyroid diseases can affect women during pregnancy. Having to deal with thyroid diseases during pregnancy can affect both the mother and her baby.
Oftentimes symptoms of thyroid diseases can easily be mistaken for menopause symptoms. That is why women should be aware of their thyroid since this small organ can affect the rest of the body.
People who are at risk for thyroid disorders: check for the following variables
- Iron deficiency
- 50 years old and above
- Asian or Caucasian descent
- Down’s or Turner’s Syndrome
- Already undergone thyroid surgery
- Have family history of thyroid problems
- Have previous history of radiation exposure or neck x-ray
- Diagnosed with autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
People afflicted with hypothyroidism or too little thyroid hormone are often overweight due to slow and poor metabolism even if they don’t eat much. People with this type of thyroid disease are tired most of the time, have low energy level, speak and move slowly, sensitive to cold temperature, have irregular menstruation and have depressive mood swings.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
A person with too much thyroid hormone or who is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism will likely have faster metabolism. People with hyperthyroidism may sometimes overeat and generally have good appetite but still lose weight. Hyperthyroidism can cause heart palpitations, insomnia, heat intolerance, hand tremors, sweating, mood swings and irritability.
In reality both men and women can be afflicted with thyroid diseases but awareness comes too late. Early thyroid check-up is necessary for early detection and for doctors to properly address the issue. People who have a family history of thyroid diseases or pregnant women who manifest symptoms are advice to get a thyroid workout as early possible. Treatments are readily available and having proper information about thyroid diseases is always the best.
Valuable information about thyroid is accessible through www.thyroid.ph website. Useful information such as self-assessment for thyroid diseases symptoms including details about goiter, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can also be viewed on the website.