Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey has thyroid disease, and she’s telling everyone.
Why? Because most people with thyroid conditions never get a proper diagnosis. Or they get the wrong diagnosis. And most of those people are women. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists estimates that more than 8 out of 10 patients with thyroid disease are women.
Oprah told her fans about being tired, about unexplained weight gain, and her inability to sleep.
Symptoms of thyroid disease could point to many other conditions women feel: being tired, depressed, having weight gain, dry skin, anxiety, brittle or thin hair, feeling heartbeats (palpitations), trouble concentrating.
“The key is for women to know about these symptoms and to report them fully to their doctors or other health care providers, because when viewed individually doctors often dismiss them as isolated problems or examples of normal aging,” said Martha Nolan, vice president of public policy for the Society for Women’s Health Research. “Patients need to put the symptoms together, speak up, and doctors need to pay attention.”
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the neck. It produces hormones and helps regulate the body’s metabolism. If the gland is underactive or does not produce enough hormone, referred to as hypothyroidism, a person may feel sluggish, fatigued and gain weight. If the gland is overactive or produces too much hormone, known as hyperthyroidism, a person may experience heart palpitations, tremors, irritability and weight loss.
“As with other autoimmune diseases (in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues), it’s believed that female hormones play some role in thyroid diseases. Just how big a role is not known. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, all seem to affect the onset of thyroid diseases,” said Rita Baron Faust, a health educator and author of The Autoimmune Connection.
Thyroid disease can be easily diagnosed with a simple blood test. Treatment is usually successful. It may require lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy or radiation and surgery, depending on the type of condition.
The trick in managing thyroid disease is getting a proper diagnosis.
Article Source: Health-e headlines Consumer Health News Service
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