Have You Checked Your Neck?

January is Thyroid Awareness Month

It’s midway through the first month of the new year and I have one powerful question for you…Where do you stand with your New Year’s Resolution(s)? Truth be told, many of us resolve at the beginning of the year to eat right, exercise and generally take better care of ourselves. Unfortunately, the challenges to truly changing behavior results in abandoned resolution.

My purpose is to have you stop for a moment and examine your situation. Consider your thyroid before proceeding or resuming your personal health improvement plans. Why? you ask. Because the thyroid is responsible for a myriad of functions within our bodies and when your thyroid isn’t working properly, then neither are you.

What You Should Know

  1. Thyroid disorders are more commonly found in women.
  2. Thyroid disorders tend to run in families.
  3. Fatigue is a common complaint for under and overactive thyroid conditions.
  4. Many symptoms such as weight gain, forgetfulness, anxiety/nervousness and insomnia are not specific to Thyroid disorders.

What You Can Do

During you regular annual exam with your physician, discuss you concern about the way your thyroid gland is functioning.  Ask your physician if s/he believes measuring your TSH levels is indicated.  Generally the presence of any of the following support TSH screening:

  1. Type 1 diabetes, or pernicious [per-NISH-ous] anemia
  2. A first-degree relative with autoimmune thyroid disease
  3. A history of neck radiation of the thyroid gland
  4. A prior history of thyroid surgery or dysfunction
  5. An abnormal thyroid examination
  6. A psychiatric disorder(s)
  7. Prescription medicines that may affect the function of your thyroid
  8. An elevated cholesterol level
Sources:
D. Cheung, MD.  Thyroid Gland: Too Slow or Too Fast? at http://www.empoweryourhealth.org/issue-1/Thyroid-gland accessed January 15, 2012.
J. Garber, MD.  When You Should Know Your TSH Level at http://www.empoweryourhealth.org/issue-1/When-You-Should-Know-Your-TSH-Level accessed January 15, 2012.
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