Oct 4, 2016

Advocacy: Let's Talk About Our Thyroid

My mom was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism; she's currently taking medication for it and is managing well. I didn’t really know much about thyroid diseases before my mom brought it up so when I was invited to "Unmasking Your Thyroid," a bloggers' forum and awareness campaign, I took it as a good opportunity to learn more about the thyroid. 

Millions of Filipinos are affected by thyroid problems. Unfortunately, very few are well-informed about it. “Unmasking Your Thyroid” was initiated by Merck Inc. as a means to educate and disseminate information about the thyroid gland and the disorders that affect it. 

The Cebu leg of the awareness campaign was held at Radisson Blu on September 29, 2016. Dr. April Melody Abcede of the Philppine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism conducted a very edifying discussion followed by an interactive question and answer segment. 

Here are some important things I learned from the boggers' forum. 

What is the thyroid gland and why should we take it seriously? 

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the neck. It is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate growth, development and metabolism. According to a study conducted by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, one in every 12 Filipino adults suffers from some form of thyroid disorder. Having a dysfunctional thyroid can have many adverse effects on your health and well-being. 

Am I at risk?

You might be at risk for thyroid diseases if you:
  • Have a family history of thyroid problems
  • Have iodine deficiency
  • Have an autoimmune disease (like type 1 diabetes)
  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have had thyroid surgery
  • Have Down's or Turner's syndrome
  • Have prior history of exposure to radiation 
  • Are of Asian or Caucasian descent

What are the symptoms of thyroid disease? 

Thyroid dysfunctions happen when the gland produces too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormones. 

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: · 
  • hyperactive metabolism · 
  • heart palpitations ·
  • insomnia 
  • mood swings
  • heat intolerance
  • hand tremors 
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: ·
  • slower metabolism · 
  • tiredness · 
  • irregular menstrual periods 
  • cold intolerance · 
  • muscle cramps 
  • fatigue 

Take this online symptoms checker for more information on the symptoms of this disease.

It is important to note that thyroid disease is complex and requires a variety of approaches for accurate diagnosis. If you suspect you might have it, visit a specialist to get the proper tests. 

Prevention is better than cure 

There are many treatment options available for thyroid diseases like medication, surgery and radioactive iodine therapy. However, it is still best if you are proactive about your health. It will save you a ton of time, money and effort if you take preventive measures. 

Various institutions have created initiatives to address thyroid disease such as the salt iodination by The World Health Organization. The Philippines also has an existing Salt Law that requires all manufacturers of food-grade salt to iodize their salt products. 

On a personal level, educating yourself will go a long way in the fight against thyroid disorders. Take time to research and understand the risks associated with this disease. Don’t wait until it’s late before you take care of your thyroid and your overall health. 

A good source of information on the thyroid gland and thyroid disorders is www.thyroid.ph. The website also includes a questionnaire that you can use for checking signs and symptoms.

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