I do not pay much attention to the tiny endocrine powerhouse in my neck. Or I guess most of us do not, do we? Until I attended a talk about Unmasking Your Thyroid. It made me realize I should take notice of its importance. Our thyroid greatly influences almost every cell in our body. It acts as our body’s control center.
According to a study by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, one in 11 Filipino adults has goiter. And around one in 12 Filipino adults suffers from some form of thyroid disorders. This study was done in 2012 and still holds true up to this date.
Though millions of Filipinos are affected by thyroid disorders, awareness of this health problem is rather low. It must have been because the symptoms of thyroid disorders are often mistaken for other ailments, or worse, are ignored by patients.
Unmasking your thyroid
Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of our neck. It secretes hormones to help maintain the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs. It also aids the body to use energy properly. If a person’s thyroid level is out of balance – underactive or overactive, it greatly affects that individual’s overall well-being. His metabolism may either speed up or slow down. These two conditions – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism – affect the thyroid in different ways and have easily distinguishable traits.
Hyperthyroidism means overactive thyroid wherein all body functions tend to speed up. As a result, a person with this condition may experience:
- weight loss despite having good appetite
- heart palpitations
- irritable thoughts
- problems falling asleep
- sweating and heat intolerance
- tremors in their hands
Patient with hypothyroidism, on the other hand, has too little thyroid hormone (underactive). He tends to be sluggish and experiences the following:
- gains weight despite not eating much
- moves and speaks slowly
- feels tired and has depressed thoughts
- cannot tolerate cold
- decreased menstrual flow
Left untreated, a person with hyperthyroidism may have serious complications, mainly related to the heart. Sudden cardiac arrest may also happen. Untreated hypothyroidism, on the contrary, may lead to mental decline, decreased lung function, heart ailment, and enlargement of the thyroid gland (known as goiter). Treatment for these conditions is relatively simple. But first, the person should be aware of his situation.
A lot of people suffers from thyroid disorders. Most of them are not aware until it is too late. It is important to have your thyroid checked as early as possible. This is especially for individuals who have a family history of the disease. As they often say:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So have yours checked today. Useful guides and important information are readily available at www.thyroid.com. Thyroid disorder is serious. And I speak seriously here as well. Again, do have yourself checked.
“Unmasking Your Thyroid” is an awareness campaign brought to us by Merck Inc. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company with headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. Merck is a leading science and technology company that works to further develop technologies to improve and enhance life.