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January is Thyroid Awareness Month, part 2

As many as 30 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease in the United States, and up to half of these cases go undetected. To help raise awareness on thyroid disease, January is recognized as Thyroid Awareness Month.

In our last post, we discussed hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, which occurs when not enough of the thyroid hormone is being released. This condition is most common in women and is often linked to the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Today, we continue our discussion by highlighting hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, as well as some of the health complications that can be caused by thyroid disease.

Overactive thyroid

If too much hormone is released, body systems can be in overdrive, which is known as hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Overactive thyroid occurs when the gland overproduces thyroid hormone even though the body is sending signals that no more hormone is needed.

Hyperthyroidism often results in a racing pulse, irritability and feeling overheated. It can also cause trouble sleeping, unexplained weight loss, anxiety and nervousness. A goiter may form because the thyroid is working in overdrive.

The autoimmune disease Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the U.S. It results when antibodies attack the thyroid, causing it to overproduce the thyroid hormone.

Getting help

When hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is present, it often means the body is suffering from thyroid disease. Thyroid disease can lead to many other health complications that can be serious.

Hypothyroidism can lead to high cholesterol, nerve damage, infertility, birth defects, miscarriage or premature birth, depression, and other mental health issues, as well as a rare but life-threatening condition called myxedema. 

Hyperthyroidism can result in serious complications as well, including vision problems, heart problems, osteoporosis, skin problems and thyrotoxic crisis, which requires urgent medical treatment.

After blood testing has been conducted and thyroid disease has been properly diagnosed by a doctor, it is often treated with drugs and/or surgery. More wholistic treatments can also be explored.

Source: Thyroid Awareness by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, “About Your Thyroid,” last accessed Dec. 28, 2018.

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