Friday, January 29, 2010

Your Thyroid Gland - Show & Tell Friday


I'm sure this is the strangest Show and Tell posting ever, but it's all for a good cause and I'm hoping the gracious hostess, Cindy, allows this one to stay.

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, although it isn't spoken of much, and that's a shame, because thyroid disease is one that often goes undiagnosed, mostly among women. It took my own doctor more than five years to actually diagnose me with hypothyroidism, although I'd had symptoms most of that time, and a family history, which is key. The problem was the lab results kept returning "normal," which is a story within itself.

Do you have five or more of the following symptoms of hypothyroidism?

  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Severe menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems.
  • Hair/skin changes (including loss or thinning of eyebrows).
  • Constipation.
  • Family history of thyroid disease.
  • Fatigue.
  • Neck discomfort/fullness (uncomfortable wearing turtlenecks).
  • Depression, even mild.
  • Increased forgetfulness.
  • Inappropriate weight gain.
  • Difficulty losing weight, even when following a diet and exercise plan.
  • Always colder than others around you.
  • Low body temperature.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Frequent sinus infections.
I'm posting this today in hopes that women who read it will check out the symptoms produced by both hypo- and hyperthyroidism and insist on having a complete work-up by your doctor.

In 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommended that the TSH “normal reference range” on blood tests should run from 0.3 - 3.0, instead of the standard range of 0.5 - 5.5. Not all practitioners (and labs) jumped aboard this bandwagon, but the belief was that this change would help to diagnose the patients who were borderline either way, and presenting with significant symptoms to suggest a thyroid problem.

It’s important to ask your doctor if he or she (and the lab used) uses the new “normal reference range” introduced in 2003. If not, find someone who does. I’m convinced that I’d had this problem for a good 20 years, but because the “reference range” was what it was back then, there was no way of diagnosing it from a blood test. No way of knowing, period. That’s depressing, but it can’t be undone. My advice is if you were tested pre-2003, get re-tested.

I urge women to be aware of the symptoms of thyroid disease. A shocking 80% of those undiagnosed are women. There are countless websites with useful information. Just do a search for "thyroid" and see for yourself. One place I highly recommend is found here.

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Regardless of how out of place this post may seem, I'm linking up with Cindy's Show and Tell Friday blog party. It's always a fun place to visit.

12 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post. It took 2 doctors and 3 years to diagnose me. I've had hypothyroidism for 6 years, plus I now have Hashimoto's disease. It's an autoimmune disease caused by hypothyroidism. I've had it for 3 years and now also have heart problems and nerve damage because of it. My daughters get checked regularly and have more of a chance of getting it because of me. My first doctor threw me away because he couldn't get my numbers under control and I wasn't getting any better. My doctor now has been amazing. Because I'm going through Menopause, I get my blood checked every couple months and my medication adjusted. I feel better now that I have in years. Thanks for the post and making people aware.

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  2. Wow, I couldn't agree with you more. I got diagnosed 2 months ago with hyperthyroid. I was losing weight and had horrible anxiety. I'm so glad that my doctor knew what I had and was able to help me. I've since been given medication which I've been taking for 6 weeks now. They also found a goiter in my thyroid which they still are not sure about. Thank you for this post.
    Michelle

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  3. Very informative! All posts like this should be left up...if it helps one person, it's highly regarded by me to be doing what it's meant to be doing.

    You rock.

    My show n tell is all about Valentine stuff this week.

    HERE

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  4. Good Morning, Dayle,

    Well, most of us have our thyroids with us in our homes and in our garden so it works for me as a Show & Tell :)

    My doctor diagnosed my hypothyroidism many years ago (at the same age as when my mother was diagnosed) and I simply take a tiny pill each morning. I still have a terrible time being cold though.

    Thank your for your informative post! And as always I am so glad to have gotten to know you as a blogging friend!

    Kindly, ldh

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  5. I enjoyed today's post, Dayle. It's been several years now since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Have reluctantly been taking pills daily. I HATE the idea of taking a synthetic hormone daily but was told I have NO CHOICE. If I could get off of it, I would but then I would be too tired to lift my head off the pillow. I do have a horrible, horrible time losing weight. It's an ongoing struggle/dilemma. Have you ever heard of anyone getting OFF the hormone? Wish I had the money to go to a naturopathic doctor. Anyway, THANKS. Sincerely, Susan from writingstraightfromtheheart.blogspot.com

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  6. I am so glad you posted this. My DH had a large growth the size of a grapefruit..on his thyroid several years ago and had to have his thyroid removed, he is on meds from now on.
    I started having problems about 3 yrs ago and all my test came back normal. I though I was losing my mind, along with my hair......stayed too tired to concentrate or do anything. I was seeing a specialist for this...go figure...I had all the symptoms but test were always normal. I even began to think it was in my head and I just tried to let it go. But I just kept getting worse, finally last year I went to my GP, and broke down crying..I told him I was losing my mind and need some pills..he said he don't think so and sent me to the hospital for a new test he had heard of...yep, I had hypothyroidism. Have been on pills for a year and feel like a different human being. I do suffer from being cold, but hey I can put on more clothes. I Am also losing weight, 53 lbs so far in less than 6 mos. Before meds I couldn't lose no matter what diet I was on.
    Molly

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  7. A very important and informative post. Thank you very much for sharing it with us.

    ~ Tracy

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  8. Good post, dear sis. We hate pills, but we take them. Ugh.

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  9. There are so many of us who have something wrong with our thyroids. That is why we walk around thinking we are going crazy!

    I have Graves Disease (Hyperthyroid). I thought I was going crazy, until I was diagnosed three years ago. Doing fine now!

    Thank you for this informative and important post!

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  10. This was a great post. I have been hypo for over 25 years. I never felt I never really had any problems until recently. I was put on the Amour thyroid pills from the beginning and that was probably the reason I felt fine.

    Now the company is having trouble with the FDA and their is a shortage of it and others like it.

    The past few weeks the Doctor has put me on the t4 only drugs and so far one reaction after another. I am now on a 3rd different t4 meds and so far so good, but it has only been few days on it. Time will tell.

    Willow

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  11. it's so important to stay on top of our health....
    and not put off going to see the doc!

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  12. Thanks for the post Dayle. I've had it all, including thyroid cancer. It took a long time to diagnose and I suffered greatly. It's so important to get the word out because so many people think they are losing their minds when they can be treated. Ann

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle