January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Most people have heard about the thyroid gland but may not have been taught about the huge importance this gland plays in our bodies. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the base of the neck. This gland influences the function of our most essential organs in the body: brain, liver, heart, kidneys and skin. The thyroid’s primary job is to make hormones that are secreted into the blood stream and carried to every tissue in our bodies. The body uses this hormone for metabolism, digestion, regulating body temperature, and much more. It is vital to ensure your thyroid gland is healthy and functioning to its proper capabilities.
There are over 30 Million Americans who have been affected by Thyroid disease. There are a few types of thyroid disease that the public should be aware of:
The only sure way to be diagnosed with this disease is to have a blood test performed that measures your thyroid hormone levels. It is highly recommended that if you or the individual you serve is a senior over 60 that a thyroid-stimulating hormone test be administered. This test measures if the gland is working properly or not. Anyone can develop a thyroid problem; however, it is more prominent in older women.
There are various forms of treatment for this disease: medication, iodine, hormones, therapy and surgery. This all depends on the type of disease that is occurring. These treatments can help greatly improve a person’s quality of life. Caregivers and loved ones should know the signs/ symptoms of thyroid disease and contact a medical professional for assistance as needed.
Hyperthyroidism: the thyroid is more active that it should be. This form of disease is most common in people 50 and younger. Although this condition is associated with more energy, a person’s body will break down over time, leaving them to feel more tired. Some of the symptoms to look out for are:
Hypothyroidism: the thyroid works slower than it should. This is common in patients over the age of60. Some of the symptoms in older adults can be unspecific and similar to other diseases. This leads to the condition going under-diagnosed for many people in this population. Symptoms to watch out for are: