What is thyroid disease?
Skin, Hair, Nails: Is your skin: cold, thick, dry with little or no sweating, waxy, flaky, itchy, pale ivory or jaundiced? Do you bruise easily, do wounds heal slowly, are you always feeling cold?
Is your body temperature below normal? Have you noticed puffiness of hands and face-especially of the eyelids and under the eyes ?
Do you get "Pins and Needles"? Do you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Have you noticed hair loss of scalp, groin, outer half of eyebrows? -are you constantly cleaning out the sink and tub drains after each shampoo? Is your scalp dry? Does your hair feel like straw? Is it starting to "frizzle"?
Are your nails brittle and thick and always breaking, splitting, layering?
Digestive system: Are you always constipated? Have you gained weight and feel "bloated?"
Is your cholesterol high?
Reproductive system: Do you have heavy menstruation(clotting is common),a tendency for low birth weight babies and early delivery? Did you miscarry your last pregnancy? Have you recently given birth? Post Partum Thyroiditis occurs in approx 8% of women after delivery and involves a hypothyroid stage 12-14 weeks after delivery.
Cardiac System: Is your pulse slower than normal? Do you experience skipped beats followed by a "boom", chest pain, shortness of breath? Are you sleeping excessively yet still feel totally "drained and lifeless"?, Do you "sigh" a lot? Is everything an extreme effort? Have you lost your "get up and go?". Do your family and co-workers (if you're still able to work) think of you as lazy?. Do you feel "100 years old" ? Do you take iron medication for chronic anemia?
Has your blood pressure changed -gone either up or down?
The Mind and Emotions: Does your mind feel "foggy?" Does your mental process seem slower than usual making thinking and decision making more difficult? Is your memory poor? Do you feel depressed, sad, and cry easily for no reason? Do you see "something" in your peripheral vision when nothing is there?
Musculator System: Is it hard to keep your arms up when curling your hair? Do you get muscle cramps, lose your balance and have a sluggish tendon reflex?
Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat: Although Thyroid Eye Disease is more commonly associated with Graves' Disease (Hyperthyroidism), it can also be associated with Hypothyroidism.
Do you find you have to listen harder to hear conversations and need the radio etc.turned up? Does your voice seem deeper and hoarse? Is your speech slurred at times? Do you notice swelling at the front of your neck and feel pressure on your throat which is making swallowing more difficult ?
Do you suffer from frequent chest colds and other infections?
Have you been treated for hyperthyroidism? ( hypothyroidism often develops after treatment ). Do you have a family history of thyroid disease and/or diabetes?
A TSH test is the most important test for detecting primary hypothyroidism.
Note: If you have had X-ray therapy as a child for enlarged adenoids or tonsils, enlargements of the thymus gland as a newborn, birthmarks, whooping cough, acne, or ringworm of the scalp, your physician should palpate your neck carefully to check for thyroid nodules as in almost every instance the thyroid function test will be normal, even in patients who have a proven carcinoma. The T4 ( a thyroid hormone) and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) value can be misleading in this case, as they reflect the state of the total thyroid function, rather than the presence or significance of a thyroid nodule.
HYPERTHYROIDISM (overactive thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism is most common between the ages of 20-40 but may occur at any age.
Could you be hyperthyroid?
Check out these possible signs and symptoms:
Skin, Hair, Nails: Do you always feel hot and can't stand the heat? Is your skin warm and velvety to touch? Is your face flushed ? Do you have increased sweating and frequent hives/itching? Have you noticed increased pigmentation of palms/soles? Do you have orange skin like lumps on the skin of the shins? Is your hair very soft, hard to curl and diffusely thinning?Are your nails soft, grow quickly and "lift" allowing dirt to get trapped underneath which is hard to get out?. Have you noticed your fingers taking on the shape of a "club?"-fingertips widen at sides of nail (rare).
Digestive System: Are you "shoveling food" into your system because of an excessive appetite but losing weight? Do you have frequent bowel movements/diarrhea?
Reproductive System: Is your period now scant or stopped altogether? Have you been told you are experiencing early menopause? Are you having difficulty to conceive? Decreased sex drive due to total exhaustion of constantly being "driven" is common. Have you recently given birth? Post partum thyroiditis involves a hyperthyroid stage 6-12 weeks after delivery followed by a hypothyroid stage 12-14 weeks post partum.
Cardiac System: Is your pulse faster than normal with times when it goes so fast(tachycardia) you become very weak? Are you short of breath? Do you have swelling of your ankles; Do you get chest pain and palpitations but a cardiac checkup reveals "nothing wrong?" When your doctor checks your blood pressure is your systolic blood pressure reading( top number) elevated with diastolic reading (bottom number) normal? This is known as wide pulse pressure.
The Mind and Emotions: Do you feel as if you"re in "overdrive and "out of control"? Are you restless, nervous, impatient, irritable, unable to stop cleaning house etc.? Do you feel "ready to explode", have mood swings, panic attacks, headaches, difficulty sleeping you're so wound up?
Muscular System: Do you find yourself pulling on the bannister with your arms to help you climb stairs due to weak thigh muscles? Have you noticed a fine tremor (you can check this by placing a sheet of paper on the back of your hand) or obvious shakiness of your hands? Is your knee jerk response exaggerated ? Are your ankles swollen?
Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat: Do you"stare" a lot without blinking? Have you noticed changes in your eyes such as eye lid elevation, a feeling of "sand in eyes", pain, watering, redness, possible protrusion. If you have thyroid eye disease symptoms, you should be seen by a specialist. Do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion on treatment options.
According to Dr. Robert Volpe, FRCP, FACP, Toronto, Canada, "the general view is that if patients do have eye signs to begin with and yet radioactive iodine is the treatment of choice, then Prednisone given concurrently with the radioactive iodine and for 6-8 weeks tends to prevent the aggravation of the eye signs. There is some suggested evidence that patients should not be allowed to become hypothyroid after treatment and possibly throxine should be given after the radioactive iodine so as to prevent hypothyroidism. However this is somewhat controversial, and most endocrinologists would wait until the TSH begins to rise before prescribing thyroxine."
Are you very sensitive to noise now ? Have you noticed a lump or swelling on the front of your neck?
Do you have a family history of thyroid disease and/or diabetes?
Please note the above symptoms are extensive in order to present the "whole picture". You probably won't have all of these symptoms. Seniors usually present atypically so TSH testing is very important. Early diagnosis with a simple TSH blood test followed by correct treatment will prevent serious complications.
It is extremely important for you to tell your doctor all of your symptoms-simply "highlight" or circle them above and take this article with you. Also write down any questions you may have and give a copy to your doctor.
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