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  1. 1. Your thyroid gland is more Step 1 Think About Your Thyroid Health - Identifying the Symptoms and Risks of Thyroid Disease important than Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease. Thyroid disease is a fact of life for 27 million Americans – and more than half of these people remain undiagnosed. Aging is just one risk you might think. factor that can contribute to hypothyroidism, a disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Women are 5 Every time you look in the mirror, a key to your times more likely than men to suffer from well-being is staring back at you: your thyroid hypothyroidism. gland. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly- The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just affects virtually every cell, tissue, and organ in the below your Adam’s apple. Your thyroid gland helps body. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, it control the function of many of your body’s organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. can produce too much thyroid hormone, which Making sure that your thyroid gland is healthy is causes your body’s systems to speed up – a important to your body’s overall well-being. condition called hyperthyroidism; or it can create This brochure contains information that will help too little thyroid hormone, which causes your you understand your role in maintaining a healthy body’s systems to slow down – a condition called thyroid. It will explain how you and your doctor hypothyroidism. If your thyroid gland isn’t working can work together to clarify your risk for thyroid properly, it can affect your overall sense of well- disease, how best to treat your condition if you are being. diagnosed with thyroid disease, and how to live an There are many different causes of thyroid disease. active and fulfilling life by keeping your thyroid Thyroid disease can be present at birth, and tends hormone levels in balance. By choosing to follow this 3-step process, you can make a difference in to run in families. The most common cause of your thyroid health. hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto thyroiditis, in which the body’s immune It’s up to you to make sure you have a healthy thyroid. Speak to your doctor or nurse if you think system attacks the thyroid. Hypothyroidism can you are at risk for thyroid disease or if you are being treated for thyroid disease and are experiencing any symptoms. If you are currently being treated for thyroid disease, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions – take the exact medicine your doctor prescribes.
  2. 2. temporarily arise after pregnancy or if the thyroid is Common Symptoms of inflamed due to a viral infection, or in response to Thyroid Hormone Imbalance certain medicines. Hyperthyroidism can be caused Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism by an autoimmune disease called Graves disease, Nervousness/irritability, Fatigue iodine insufficiency, or thyroid cancer. Many sleeplessness patients treated for hyperthyroidism require removal Unexplained weight gain Unexplained weight loss of thyroid tissue to reduce thyroid hormone levels. Cold intolerance Heat intolerance This treatment can lead to a permanent state of hypothyroidism, as the remaining active thyroid Dry skin and hair Increased sweating cells cannot produce enough thyroid hormone. Increased cholesterol Irregular heart beat Thyroid disease is a serious condition, but is highly treatable. Because the thyroid is important for the Because many of these symptoms may be hard to normal function of many of your body’s organs, recognize and may be mistaken for symptoms of untreated thyroid disease can increase your risk of other conditions, the best way to know for sure developing additional health problems, including about your thyroid health is to ask your doctor for heart disease, osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol, a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple and depression. Research also shows that people blood test that measures your thyroid gland’s who have thyroid disease have a higher risk of condition. If you have a family member with thyroid developing other autoimmune diseases, including disease, are over the age of 35, or have any diabetes, arthritis, and anemia. symptoms or risk factors associated with thyroid To maintain a healthy thyroid, you must learn how disease, you should talk to your doctor about to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of getting a TSH test. 2 thyroid disease. Included in this brochure is a checklist of specific symptoms and risk factors, Step including those for patients currently undergoing treatment for thyroid disorders to help them Take Your Medicine – determine if their thyroid hormone levels are in Keep Your Thyroid in Balance balance. Identifying whether your thyroid hormone levels are in balance is the first step toward taking control of your thyroid health. The second step is to recognize that there are effective treatments available to manage thyroid disease, as long as you follow your doctor’s instructions.
  3. 3. 3 Hypothyroidism, whether it is caused by Hashimoto thyroiditis or arises as a consequence of treatment Step for hyperthyroidism, is treated by replacing the body’s thyroid hormone with a single daily dose of Track Your Condition – a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine Living With Thyroid Disease sodium (LT4). Because most cases of thyroid disease are permanent and often progressive, it is Millions of people with thyroid disease are living necessary to receive treatment throughout your active, healthy lives because they have chosen to lifetime. To ensure consistent treatment, your doctor take control of their health and keep their thyroid may prescribe a specific brand of LT4, and will hormone levels in balance. prescribe the correct dose to keep your thyroid in Though most people with thyroid disease will not balance. Precise dosing of LT4 is important because be cured of their condition, both hypothyroidism your body is sensitive to even small changes in and hyperthyroidism can be controlled. People with thyroid hormone levels. Periodic monitoring of TSH these conditions often remark that with therapy, levels is required to ensure that the proper LT4 dose they feel that they have rediscovered the life they is being given, and the LT4 dose may have to be lost. Hypothyroid patients on LT4 therapy can adjusted from time to time to ensure proper expect to lead full and normal lives. treatment. It’s not difficult to keep your thyroid in balance, but To achieve the best possible treatment results, it is it does require effort and attention. If you are important that you take your thyroid medicine as diagnosed with thyroid disease, be sure to take instructed by your doctor. Do not stop taking your your thyroid medicine as instructed by your doctor, thyroid medicine, even if you feel better, without and refill your prescription on time so that you talking to your doctor. It is important that you don’t miss any doses. Your doctor may want to run receive consistent therapy in order to avoid any TSH tests every 6 to 12 months to monitor your variations in your thyroid hormone levels. Untreated thyroid levels. thyroid disease or over- or under-treatment of The enclosed TSH Tracker card will help you and thyroid disease can cause a thyroid hormone your doctor to schedule regular TSH tests, monitor imbalance. In addition, various medicines and your TSH levels, and ensure that you receive the supplements may affect the absorption of your optimal dose of thyroid medicine. thyroid medicine; therefore, you should talk to your doctor about any medicines and supplements you It is important that you receive consistent treatment are taking and about the best time of day to take for your thyroid. This is especially important for your thyroid medicine. elderly or pregnant patients and patients with
  4. 4. January is cardiovascular conditions or thyroid cancer. Thyroid medicines are precisely dosed to meet your individual thyroid needs. In fact, thyroid medicine doses are so precise that they are measured in 1 one-millionth of a gram. The Food and Drug Thyroid Administration (FDA) has determined that not all thyroid medicines are interchangeable. Therefore, switching your thyroid medicine from one brand to another or from a brand to a generic should be made under the guidance of a doctor, and Awareness additional TSH testing and dosage adjustment may be required to ensure you are receiving the amount of thyroid hormone your body needs. It is important for you to know your medicine brand Month and dose, and that you make sure when you pick up your prescription at the pharmacy that you are getting exactly what your doctor prescribed. You make the difference in maintaining your thyroid health. Speak candidly with your doctor about your family history, symptoms, and how you are feeling. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, take your medicine daily or as prescribed by your doctor, stay on the brand of thyroid medicine your doctor prescribes, and visit your doctor every 6 to 12 months or as symptoms arise. January is Thyroid Awareness Month and is sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). AACE is a not-for- profit national organization of highly qualified specialists in hormonal and metabolic disorders. Our primary goal is to provide high-quality specialty care to patients with endocrine problems such as thyroid disease. The first step in taking control of your thyroid health is to check your symptoms and risks. Take a moment to review the symptoms and risk- factor checklists on the following pages and share the results with your doctor.
  5. 5. Is your thyroid disease under Over- or under-treatment risk factors: Hyperthyroidism: control? ❏ You received a different thyroid product at the ❏ Nervousness/irritability If you are currently being treated for thyroid disease, pharmacy than your doctor prescribed and you ❏ Irregular heart beat do you have any of the following symptoms? If you do, have not had a new TSH test ❏ Heat intolerance discuss them with your doctor. ❏ You recently started taking new medicines ❏ Increased sweating prescribed by another doctor ❏ Unexplained weight loss Possible symptoms of over-treated ❏ You recently started taking vitamins or herbal ❏ Diarrhea remedies and your doctor is not aware of them ❏ Sleeplessness hypothyroidism: ❏ Nervousness/irritability ❏ Thyroid enlargement If you checked any of these risk factors or symptoms, ❏ Decreased menstrual flow ❏ Irregular heart beat you may need a new TSH test or dose adjustment to ❏ Heat intolerance ❏ Impaired fertility ensure your thyroid is in balance. To avoid over- or ❏ Increased sweating under-treatment, take your medicine every day and stay ❏ Unexplained weight loss Thyroid Disease Risk Factors on the brand and dose of thyroid medicine your doctor ❏ Diarrhea Do you have any of the following risk factors? prescribed. ❏ Sleeplessness ❏ Previous thyroid dysfunction ❏ Thyroid enlargement ❏ Goiter ❏ Decreased menstrual flow Are you at risk for thyroid disease? ❏ Surgery or radiotherapy affecting the thyroid gland ❏ Impaired fertility Do you have any of the following signs and symptoms? ❏ Diabetes mellitus If you do, discuss them with your doctor. ❏ Pernicious anemia Possible symptoms of under-treated ❏ Coarse or thinning hair hypothyroidism: Hypothyroid and Hyperthyroid Risk ❏ Use of medicines such as lithium carbonate or ❏ Fatigue iodine-containing compounds Factors ❏ Unexplained weight gain ❏ History of head or neck irradiations Hypothyroidism: ❏ Dry skin and hair ❏ Family history of thyroid disease ❏ Fatigue ❏ Difficulty concentrating ❏ Unexplained weight gain If you have any of these signs and symptoms or risk ❏ Increased cholesterol ❏ Dry skin and hair factors, you may have undiagnosed thyroid disease. If ❏ Depression ❏ Difficulty concentrating you think you are at risk, ask your doctor for a TSH ❏ Cold intolerance ❏ Increased cholesterol test. Now is the time to take control of your health. ❏ Constipation ❏ Depression ❏ Vague aches and pains ❏ Always feeling cold ❏ Increased menstrual flow ❏ Constipation ❏ Vague aches and pains ❏ Heavy menstrual flow Use this card to help you and your doctor schedule regular TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tests and monitor your TSH levels to ensure you receive the optimal dose of thyroid medicine. Appointment TSH Test Results Thyroid Medication Date Results and Dose ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– ––––––––––––– –––––––––––––
  6. 6. Cho ose to Take Control of your thyroid health