gland is more
Think About Your Thyroid Health -
Identifying the Symptoms and Risks of
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
❏ 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?
❏ 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
❏ Unexplained weight gain ❏ History of head or neck irradiations
❏ Dry skin and hair ❏ Family history of thyroid disease
❏ 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
❏ 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.
❏ Vague aches and pains
❏ Always feeling cold
❏ Increased menstrual flow
❏ 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
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