Local Doctor: Keeping tabs on your thyroid – Monmouth Daily Review Atlas

Posted: February 4, 2020 at 11:42 pm

We all experience annoying symptoms from time to time. Fatigue, anxiety, hair loss and weight gain are symptoms we might chalk up to stress, diet, lack of sleep, or aging.

Often, many of these issues can be resolved by eating a healthy, whole food diet, exercising more, reducing stress and getting enough sleep. But when symptoms persist, you may want to visit your primary care physician and get your thyroid levels checked.

An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of a thyroid condition. According to statistics, women are much more likely than men to have thyroid problems. Hyperthyroidism affects two in 100 women and two in 1,000 men.

The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in the base of the neck that makes the hormone T4. When enters the bloodstream; it converts to T3, the most active form of thyroid hormone. Having sufficient levels of these hormones helps regulate body temperature, metabolism, blood pressure and heart rate.

When thyroid issues are left untreated, patients can suffer from cardiovascular problems, nerve injury, infertility and, in severe cases, death. Pregnant women with undiagnosed hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and severe developmental problems in their children.

The thyroid can become underactive, overactive, infected or cancerous. Here is a rundown of the most common thyroid issues:

Hyperthyroidism

Someone who has an overactive thyroid may notice some of these symptoms:

Irritability

Rapid heartbeat

Sweating

Hand and finger tremors

Fatigue

Osteoporosis

Anxiety

Insomnia

After diagnosis, an overactive thyroid can be treated with medication. Graves disease is a type of hyperthyroidism. Its an autoimmune, genetic condition that can cause the tissue and muscle behind the eyes to swell. While graves is a life-long condition, it is treatable. Some treatment options include medication, radioactive iodine and, in some cases, surgery.

Hypothyroidism

Another common problem facing many Americans is an underactive thyroid. Some of the common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include:

Memory loss

Fatigue

Cold intolerance

Constipation

Dry skin

Fertility problems

Depression

Hair loss

Weight gain

Your doctor will likely start by testing the thyroid hormone levels in your blood. Once a doctor diagnoses a patient with an underactive thyroid, they may prescribe a hormone replacement, which can reverse the effects of hypothyroidism.

Cancer

Thyroid cancer occurs when the cells in the thyroid grow uncontrollably, forming a nodule or tumor. Approximately 62,500 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the United States each year. The disease usually affects people between the ages of 20 and 55. Women are nearly three times more likely to develop thyroid cancer. Many patients have no symptoms, but some experience a lump in the neck, voice changes and painful swallowing. Fortunately, about 90% of thyroid nodules are benign, and one out of 10 is malignant.

Regular neck checks are an essential part of your wellness routine. During your annual exam, your primary care physician will check your neck. If you find a lump or experience any of the symptoms described above, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to get it checked out.

Dr. Julio Santiago is board certified in family medicine, fluent in Spanish and is a member of the medical staff at Galesburg Cottage Hospital.

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Local Doctor: Keeping tabs on your thyroid - Monmouth Daily Review Atlas

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