Keeping an eye on thyroid health symptoms.
Kathryn “Kay” Elmore says she discovered she had thyroid issues after taking a blood test — and only after initially dismissing her chronic tiredness and dry hair to a normal result of working full-time and just having had her third child.
“You just think, ‘It’s kind of the way the world is,’” said Elmore, who grew up in Lombard with seven siblings. But Elmore’s primary doctor, during a routine exam, felt little lumps on Elmore’s thyroid. The thyroid gland is in the middle of the lower neck; it produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The blood test showed her thyroid produced inadequate amounts of thyroid hormone – a condition known as hypothyroidism.
She has since taken the generic form of Synthroid called levothyroxine (also called T4), and a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone T3 called Cytomel. Elmore requires a blood test at least every six months to ensure that her thyroid is working well, and that her medication doses require no changes.
Hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid malfunctions, affecting up to 15 percent of Americans in cases ranging from mild to those requiring medication, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA). The diagnoses have been climbing because technology has enabled lab tests to recognize milder conditions that weren’t recognized previously, says Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and the president-elect of the ATA. January has been designated thyroid awareness month by the ATA.
Though hypothyroidism worldwide is due to iodine deficiency in people’s diets, that’s not the case for Americans.
“Here, it’s because a person’s immune system fails to recognize the thyroid and attacks – a situation in which antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation – also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,” Pearce said.
|Read Full Article: Why thyroid health should matter to all, especially women | Chicago Sun-Times|