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Thyroid problems common in America

Thyroid problems common in America

April 11th, 2018 by David Wilson in Local News
<p>Leslie Voigt</p>

Are you too exhausted to move? Have you gained weight and can't lose it?

You just might be one of those more than 20 million Americans who have some type of a thyroid condition. That is a rate of one in 16 Americans and 80 percent are women.

Very likely, everyone knows someone with a thyroid problem.

Just a few years ago, Leslie Voigt, formerly of California, found herself in that situation. After about six months, she sought help to find the reason.

When a person, suddenly or over a period of time, becomes tired all of the time — almost exhausted just to raise their arms — and has gained weight and can't seem to lose it, it could be a thyroid problem.

As it turned out for Voigt, it actually was a thyroid problem. She was diagnosed in 2010 and the medication she has taken for treatment has been successful, although she is now on a different medication than she started with.

In fact, tiredness and weight gain are only two of the symptoms that lead to a person being checked out for some possible malfunction of the thyroid gland. The possible symptoms of a thyroid condition are, in fact, rather wide-ranging, based largely on whether the thyroid is overactive, under active, being attacked by the immune symptom, or swelled and inflamed.

In Voigt's case, the problem was diagnosed as Hashimoto's Disease, one of the five most common of the thyroid-related conditions.

Hashimoto's Disease

According to information from the American Thyroid Association, this is an autoimmune disorder. The thyroid gland is attacked by the body's own immune system. This is in response to antibodies, which are produced by exposure to an allergen, such as a virus, bacteria or chemicals. If the problem continues, the thyroid gland may be destroyed. Interestingly enough, once the thyroid is gone, whether destroyed or removed, the immune system is believed to select another body organ to attack.

The other four of the most common thyroid conditions are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Grave's Disease and thyroiditis.

Hyperthyroidism

This is when the thyroid is overactive, producing too many T3/T4 hormones. The symptoms and the causes are diverse. Conventional treatment includes beta­ blockers and anti­-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine­, and surgery. There are a number of natural approaches, all of which basically involve dietary changes, often drastic, and may vary with each victim. It may also help to get enough sleep, do deep breathing meditation, and general relaxation. These all may be helpful in reducing stress on the thyroid.

Hypothyroidism

This is when the thyroid is under active, produces too few T3/T4 thyroid hormones. Common causes include a thyroid birth deficiency, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, less iodine than necessary, a problem with the pituitary gland, toxic metals and an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. The conventional treatment is a synthetic hormone - Levothyroxine. The natural approaches are the same as hyperthyroidism, except for increasing the amount of exercise. Exercise may help increase the thyroid hormones, helping improve an under active gland.

Grave's Disease

This is similar to Hashimoto's disease, in that it is an autoimmune disorder. The thyroid gland is attacked by the immune system. It is described as confusing the cells of the thyroid, causing it to become inflamed and it then produces too much of the T3/T4 thyroid hormones Then, the thyroid may become overactive. This one brings about the usual symptoms, especially insomnia, irritability and eye problems. Although the condition's causes are similar to Hashimoto's disease, the treatments are generally the same as for hyperthyroidism.

Thyroiditis

This is swelling or inflammation of the thyroid gland, but there are several different types. There is Hashimoto's thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, silent/painless thyroiditis (similar to postpartum but not related to birth) and sub acute thyroiditis. In the postpartum variety, the patient usually recovers on her own within a year to a year and a half. The sub acute type causes pain in the jaw, neck and/or ear. Medication treatment varies with whether the condition starts with an overactive or under active condition.

Thyroid problems have been recognized for a long time, long before the organ actually had its own name. One of the conditions, now known as goiter, was treated with seaweed by the Chinese as early as 2700 B.C. In 138 A.D., the Greek physician Soranus mentioned neck swelling following pregnancy. In 1500 A.D., at least one of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings included a neck with the thyroid gland. Although it was described later, it was not named until 1656. Thomas Wharton thought it resembled an old Greek type of shield. It wasn't until 1820, that goiter was treated with iodine, which had actually been discovered and named in 1811.

As with everything, getting the right amount of iodine may be a balancing act. The iodine in food depends on where it was grown, as well as what the food it. The iodine levels also vary in water, depending where the water is from. Although too little iodine is generally considered a problem, too much can be a problem for those with kidney disease or tuberculosis.

Recent studies have shown getting too much iodine can cause similar problems to not getting enough. A Chinese study reported in WebMD in 2006 found that too much iodine could lead to mild thyroid symptoms. More recent studies have indicated that taking too much iodine has been linked to the development of subclinical hypothyroidism, which may increase the risk of heart problems. Although too little iodine is generally considered a problem, too much can be a problem for those with kidney disease or tuberculosis.

Basically, if many of the symptoms of some thyroid condition are present, it certainly would be advisable to be checked out by a physician.