50% of Thyroid Problems Go Undiagnosed: Untreated Thyroid Disease Can Lead To Heart Disease, Infertility, and Osteoporosis
Women Are Five Times More Likely To Develop Thyroid Issues: Do A “Neck Check” And Get Tested
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (January 11, 2016) – Thyroid disease is more common than breast cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, affecting 30 million Americans each year. In fact, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, more Americans suffer from thyroid disease than all types of cancers combined and left untreated, thyroid disease may lead to elevated cholesterol levels and subsequent heart disease, as well as infertility and osteoporosis.
Research also shows a strong genetic link between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases, including types of diabetes, arthritis, and anemia. Since symptoms of thyroid disease are often ignored or incorrectly attributed to other conditions, thyroid issues are commonly misdiagnosed. As a result, many adults may suffer unnecessarily from chronic fatigue, weight gain, depression, sleeplessness, or irritability due to a thyroid that’s under producing or overproducing thyroid hormone.
Thyroid problems are much more common among women vs. men—women are more than five times more likely to suffer from thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone). How can overworked, overstressed adults know when fatigue is just fatigue, or whether it points to a thyroid condition?
Thyroid hormone ‘controls every cell, tissue, and organ’
January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, and as such, it’s the perfect time to pay attention to your thyroid to improve your overall health. “The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which controls virtually every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can cause the body’s systems to speed up (hyperthyroidism); or it can cause body systems to slow down (hypothyroidism),” said Kay Lovig, M.D., an endocrinologist with White Plains Hospital Medical and Wellness in Armonk, NY.
WPH has expanded its thyroid program with the addition of two new specialists: Dr. Lovig and endocrine surgeon Stacie Kahan, M.D. Dr. Kaare Weber, Endocrine Surgeon and Director of Surgery at White Plains Hospital, commented on the growth of the Hospital’s commitment to treating thyroid disease. “Drs. Lovig and Kahan are skilled and valuable additions to our growing team,” he said. “Working collaboratively with our partner medical groups in the community, we ensure that patients with thyroid disease receive the highest quality of care at White Plains Hospital, with the best possible outcomes.”
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists created the blue paisley ribbon in support of Thyroid Awareness Month and to promote thyroid awareness. Thyroid disorders can range from more mild to severe and can produce symptoms that are discomforting, disabling, or even life threatening. Most common thyroid issues include: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, Thyroid Nodules, and Thyroid Cancer.
The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck below the Adam’s apple, is crucial to organ function and impacts the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. The thyroid gland is responsible for manufacturing enough thyroid hormone to prompt cells to perform a function at a certain rate.
Iodine found in diet (iodized salt, seafood, bread, milk) helps fuel the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland controls the functions of the thyroid and the other glands that make up the endocrine system. The pituitary gland sends messages to the thyroid gland—in the form of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)—to control the the production of thyroid hormone. Higher levels of TSH prompt the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. Conversely, low TSH levels signal the thyroid to slow down production.
A normally functioning thyroid keeps the body running smoothly. Factors such as disease, damage to the thyroid or certain medicines can impact the thyroid’s ability to produce enough hormone. When hormone levels drop, body functions slow down, a condition known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. The thyroid can also produce too much hormone sending your systems into overdrive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid.
Symptoms of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
- Feeling cold
- Increased fatigue
- Increased weight gain, inability to regulate weight
When your body produces too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), your body systems speed up. Symptoms can include:
- Racing pulse
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling overheated
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Anxiety and nervousness
Do a monthly ‘neck check’—
Dr. Stacie Kahan is an expert in the treatment of thyroid cancer. To help with early detection, she advises doing a monthly thyroid check—a self-exam that’s easily performed at home with the aid of a handheld mirror and a glass of water. To do a “neck check,” Dr. Kahan suggests the following steps:
1. First, identify the location of your thyroid. It is located at the lower front area of your neck, above the collarbones and below the voice box.
2. Take a drink of water and tip your head back. Keep your eyes on your thyroid area.
3. As you swallow, look at your neck and note any bulges. Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone.
4. Repeat the test several times.
5. Consult your doctor if you see anything of concern.
According to Dr. Kahan, “Symptoms of thyroid imbalance often get ignored. With everything going on in our lives, it’s hard to know whether fatigue or weight gain is due to lifestyle or to an underlying thyroid condition.”
An annual check-up that includes a simple TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test can be used to measure thyroid function. The good news is that thyroid disease, once properly detected, can be treated and a range of treatment options are available to help restore hormone levels to their natural balance.
About White Plains Hospital
White Plains Hospital (WPH) is a 292-bed not-for-profit health care organization with the primary mission of providing exceptional acute and preventive medical care to all people who live in, work in or visit Westchester County and its surrounding areas. Centers of Excellence include the Dickstein Cancer Center, The William & Sylvia Silberstein Neonatal & Maternity Center and The Ruth and Jerome A. Siegel Stroke Center. The Hospital’s Flanzer Emergency Department is the busiest in Westchester County, seeing over 55,000 visits a year. White Plains Hospital performs lifesaving emergency and elective angioplasty in its Joan and Alan Herfort, M.D. Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Marie Promuto Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. White Plains Hospital also has outpatient medical facilities in Armonk and New Rochelle. The Hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission and earned its recognition as a Top Performer for Key Quality Measures® in 2015 and 2013. The Hospital is also an eleven-time winner of the Consumer Choice Award, an honor given to the nation’s top hospitals by the National Research Corporation, and received Magnet® designation in 2012 from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). In 2014 White Plains Hospital received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award from Healthgrades®, given to only 5% of hospitals nationwide. White Plains Hospital is a proud member of the Montefiore Health System. For additional information, visit http://www.wphospital.org.