Posted by on July 8, 2013 - 10:13am

For such a little organ, the thyroid gland sure can cause a lot of trouble.   This small, butterfly-shaped gland controls nearly all of your body’s metabolic processes by secreting different kinds of hormones. Almost 60 million Americans are estimated to have some sort of thyroid problem and a vast majority of these individuals don’t even realize it.

Women have a much greater chance of developing thyroid disease than men—researchers estimate that women are 6-8 times more likely to develop thyroid conditions in their lifetimes.

Thyroid disease can refer to anything from hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) to thyroid nodules to thyroid cancer. The first step in understanding the thyroid and your personal risk factor is to educate yourself on the different types. Pay special attention to the symptoms and see which ones apply to you.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Persistent weakness or pain in the muscles and joints
  • Hair loss
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Inexplicable mood changes, especially depression
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Irregular bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Neck swelling

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms, a TSH screening is good place to start; this simple blood test determines how well your thyroid is functioning.

Once you are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, there are several treatment options ranging from surgery (for cancer, goiters, and nodules) to drug therapy. Just know that there are several treatment options to choose from and that (most importantly) you are not alone.

Guest Author: Carolyn Heintz is a nutritionist, freelance writer and mother who has dedicated her life to building a comprehensive knowledge of how to eat, exercise, and live well. In her spare time, she runs her personal health and wellness blog.

Posted by on January 23, 2012 - 7:20am

Based on a new study of nearly 118,000 women, researchers estimated that nearly 500,000 pregnant women with gestational hypothyroidism may go undetected each year.

Asian women were almost five times more likely to test positive for gestational hypothyroidism than African-American women (19.3% compared with 6.7%) and slightly more likely than Caucasian and Hispanic women (16.4% and 15.2%, respectively).

Gestational hypothyroidism has been linked to medical complications for both mothers and babies. However, the appropriate diagnostic approach and management of the condition remains controversial. The researchers wanted to analyze the current status of testing for thyroid disease during pregnancy.

Of the pregnant women in the study, Asian women had the highest testing rate of 28% and African-American woman had the lowest rate at just 19%. Testing rates increased with maternal age.

The analysis found that women 35 to 40 years of age were 2.2 times more likely to be tested when compared than women between 18 and 24.  Weight was also a factor as those over 275 pounds  were 1.3 times more likely to be tested than those weighing between 100 and 124 pounds .

Younger women were slightly underrepresented in the study population and older women were slightly overrepresented. Given the higher rates of gestational hypothyroidism among older women, the authors suggested that the overall rate is slightly lower than what they report.

"Because national and international endocrine and obstetrical organizations may consider the implications of universal prenatal and antenatal screening, this study demonstrates that the proportion of women tested for gestational hypothyroidism is low," wrote the authors. "(I)f outcomes are shown to improve with intervention, then this may have a significant impact on the health of a large number of women and their children."

All three authors are employed by Quest Diagnostics.
Source reference:
Blatt AJ, et al "National status of testing for hypothyroidism during pregnancy and postpartum" J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2012; 97: DOI: 10.1210/jc.2011-2038.