Did you know that January is National Thyroid Month?
Thyroid jokes abound, it can actually suffer three very serious diseases. Hypothyroidism is the result of your thyroid producing too little triiodothyronine (T3) and/or thyroxine (T4.) These hormones help keep our energy levels and body temperature on an even keel, regulate our metabolism and supply assistance to many other parts of the body. Hyperthyroidism is the other side of the coin (when your thyroid produces too much of the hormones that help regulate metabolism, as well as others.) Both forms of Thyroid Disease are under or even misdiagnosed. Both have very serious side effects. The third is Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Hashimoto's Disease results in a goiter, making it difficult to breath or swallow. It can be "cured," but often ends in hypothyroidism.
Though I cannot speak for the issues hypers are made to endure, I can tell you that Hyperthyroidism (the fast, lose tons of weight and find it impossible to get it back or keep it on) is, by far the more serious of the two. Hypers, if left untreated have a higher risk of fatality.
As many of you know, I am a Hypothyroid patient. Before I was treated, I wasn't vastly overweight. In fact, I might have just been a little chubby (and that only started once I hit puberty.) I'm a junk food eater, though, so I never thought anything of it. Of course, what I couldn't understand is, when I would set up an exercise regime for myself, why would I never see results? My body always felt heavy and sluggish to me; I didn't have the energy to do much. Sure! As a tween and teen I'd get a short burst of energy and go, go, go...for a day. Then, the rest of the week I'd feel sleepy (like I do now, even though I've had plenty of sleep.) Not only that, but I felt my heart skips beats every few days. Of course, my mother having a heart murmur, neither one of us thought anything about it. We figured it was a "runs in the family" sort of condition. She was fine, so I must be, too! But, tell me, when you are sitting perfectly still, not having done any recent physical activity that can be categorized as exertion, does your heart beat so hard that you rock slightly? Can you see a vein pulsing in your arm? If your legs are crossed, does the top one bob with your pulse? Mine did; every single one of those things. Still does; some days are worse than others. Getting and staying warm, even on cool summer days is no easy task for me. (Now I know why I love wearing sweaters in the summer!!!) Before I started taking medication, my concentration and memory were quite difficult to focus some days. I didn't have any of these issues until after my parents' moved us out here to Cape Cod. Odd. I think I was thirteen when I experienced my first "skip beat." And it was scary. If your heart has ever skipped a beat, you know what it's like.
Finally, I was diagnosed. This was only after I had taken my health into my own hands; after I'd graduated, left my parents' house and gotten my own health insurance. It was then that the nurse told me that Cape Cod has one of the highest percentages of thyroid sufferers in the country! I believe she said that 60% of patients at the clinic I use have one form of thyroid disease or another. 60%! No wonder I only showed symptoms after we'd moved. Go figure.
So, I'm on medication, and will be for the rest of my life. Not a prospect about which I'm thrilled. (Especially when Peak Oil really begins taking it's toll and meds will be extremely difficult to get my hands on.) Without medication, my memory retention, focus, respiratory tract, circulation, hair and nails' conditions, mood, eyesight and kidney function will all begin to degrade. Here is an article on eHow outlining the short to long term effects of Hypothyroidism if left untreated. Not a pretty picture.
If you are interested in what National Thyroid Month means, please visit this site: The Face of Thyroid Disease. Pay attention, learn all you can and get checked out by your doctor if you think you may be showing symptoms of any thyroid conditions. Even if you are the perfect picture of health, be suspect with symptoms that family and friends may display.
Thyroid Disease is not a joke.