The butterfly shaped gland in your neck known as your thyroid, plays a crucial role in so many of the body’s systems. January is Thyroid Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to sharing information about thyroid health and how your thyroid functions in the body.
About Your Thyroid
The thyroid is the engine of the body’s metabolism. Located at the base of the neck, the thyroid impacts the function of many important organs such as the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. It secretes two hormones, triiodothyronine, commonly referred to as T3 and thyroxine, commonly referred to as T4. These hormones help regulate how the body uses and stores energy. When your body produces too much or not enough hormones, dysfunction occurs.
There are two versions of thyroid disease, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormone, and hyperthyroidism is overproduction of the thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is the most common form of the disease.
Hypothyroidism happens when certain factors stop the thyroid gland from producing enough thyroid hormones. This disease develops slowly, and symptoms are difficult to notice, especially in the early stages.
As thyroid hormone production continues to decrease, and the body’s metabolism slows, patients with hypothyroidism may experience these symptoms:
- Dry, brittle hair and nails
- Dry itchy skin
- Sore muscles
- Weight gain and fluid retention
- Heavy and/or irregular menstrual cycles
- Increased sensitivity to medications
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with blood tests. It can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which will alleviate symptoms, in most cases, within two weeks of starting therapy. Patients with severe symptoms may require several months of treatment before they fully recover.
When your thyroid keeps producing too much thyroid hormone and pushes your metabolism into overdrive, this is hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes the thyroid to be enlarged as it is trying to overproduce thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Increased heart rate (greater than 100 beats per minute)
- Increased anxiety and irritability
- Trembling hands
- Weight loss despite eating the same amount or more than usual
- Heat intolerance
- Muscle weakness, especially in upper arms and thighs
- Smooth skin
- Change in menstrual pattern
- Increased risk for miscarriage
- Protrusion of the eyes, with or without double vision
- Irregular heart rhythm, especially at greater than 60 years of age
- Increased risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis
If you experience symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, find an endocrinologist in your area: AACE Find An Endo | American Association of Clinical Endocrinology
Questions to ask your Pharmacist
- What is the difference between a generic thyroid hormone pill and a brand name thyroid hormone pill?5
- What time of day is best to take my thyroid hormone pill?5
- Can I take my thyroid medication with food, other medications, vitamins or supplements?5
- Can any of my other medications affect my thyroid?5
Statistics on Thyroid Disease
- More than 30 million Americans will develop some form of thyroid condition3
- Up to 60% of people with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition3
- Women are 5 times more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism3
- 30-50% of people with thyroid disease have eye symptoms that may impair their vision3
There are a few common risk factors associated with thyroid disorders:3
- Type 1 diabetes
- Family History
- Recent Pregnancy
- Past radiation treatment to the neck or head area
Tria Health can help
As with many chronic conditions, effectively managing your medication is extremely important in treating thyroid disease. Tria Health provides one-on-one confidential counseling with a pharmacist for any of your medication related questions. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your questions.
Have any questions for us?
Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742