One year ago today exactly, I took a photo of me holding a piece of paper that simply said ‘I am the face of thyroid disease’ and posted it online. Underneath the photo, I had a bit of a rant about doctors misdiagnosing thyroid disease, often inadequately treating us and explaining that thyroid disease affects people of all ages, sizes, ethnicity and backgrounds.
I’m doing it again this year, not only sharing that post in the hopes that it will raise some awareness on the symptoms, and mismanagement of thyroid issues, but also with a new post, that I hope expands on the issues I touched on a year ago.
It’s important to know that although thyroid disease isn’t well-known about generally and you may think you don’t know anyone with it:
- The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease.
- Including 1 in 20 people in the UK, say the British Thyroid Foundation.
- and The ATA say that as many as 60% are undiagnosed.
So could this include you or a friend or family member?
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Sensitiviy to cold/heat
- Weight gain, inability to lose weight
- Constipation/wind often
- Slow movements, speech and thoughts
- Itchy and/or sore scalp
- Muscle cramps, aches, pains and weakness
- Poor appetite
- Dry and tight feeling skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Loss of libido
- Pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand, fingers and limbs (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Irregular periods or heavy periods
- Brain fog/confusion/memory problems
- Hoarse voice
- A puffy-looking face
- Thinned or partly missing eyebrows or eyelashes
- A slow heart rate or one that increases more so than a healthy person’s, after physical activity (e.g. after walking up the stairs or emptying the washing machine)
- Anaemia or other vitamin deficiencies
- Poor stamina
- The need to nap more than others
- Long recovery period after any activity
- Inability to exercise, or withstand certain exercises
- Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Being overly emotional
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor circulation
- High or rising cholesterol
- Acid reflux
- Hair loss
- Easy bruising
- Swollen legs that impede walking
- Shin splints
- Difficulty standing on feet
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Fertility issues
And symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Increased sweating
- Oversentivity to heat
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry, thin skin
- Hair loss
- Change in sex drive
- Larger eyes
- Mood changes
- Dry or gritty eyes
- Double vision
- Weak, less define muscles
- Aches and pains
- Changes to menstrual cycle
- Infertility or problems conceiving
If you believe it could be possible that you have a thyroid issue, please make an appointment with your doctor and have them run a full thyroid panel. Your doctor may wish to just run the TSH test first, but it is important to know that this isn’t accurate on its own and the other components of the panel also need checking, especially if TSH comes back ‘normal’. Optimal levels are important, as well as checking thyroid antibodies for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s and Graves Disease. It is also important to note that having Hashimoto’s can cause results to move up and down as if you’re changing from hypo to hyper, or back and fourth between normal and abnormal. You could also be told you’re ‘only borderline‘ hypothyroid.
For those of us already diagnosed, we can gain awareness this month about how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, what vitamins may help us and what tests we need to ensure our doctors are doing on us. We should also be aware of what results we are looking for.
We should also share any resources we’ve found helpful, for example, I would suggest all hypothyroid patients to follow the organisations recommended on the home page under – Organisations I Support at the bottom of the page. There’s Stop The Thyroid Madness, Hypothyroid Mom, Mary Shomon, Thyroid UK.. to name just a few. Check them out.
And finally, if you know someone with hypo or hyperthyroidism, please take the time this Thyroid Disease Awareness Month to learn a bit more about their condition and don’t be afraid to ask us questions! It’s nice to know you care.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:
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I run a Facebook group, called Thyroid Family: Hypothyroidism Advice & Support Group. This group is for underactive thyroid/hypothyroidism patients only, and not medical professionals or anyone else. If you have any questions on living with hypothyroidism, or want some support, help or advice, please join us.
I also run a group for the spouses, partners and other halves of hypothyroid patients, called Hypothyroid Patients Other Halves – Support & Advice Group. This is for the other halves only and not patients.