7 July 2009
Up to 300 million people worldwide experience problems with their thyroid,1 although over half are presumed to be unaware of their condition.2.The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of the neck, in front of the windpipe. It is the ‘master controller’ of metabolism.3
What are thyroid dysfunctions?
If your thyroid is underactive it produces too little thyroid hormone, resulting in a condition called hypothyroidism. People with hypothyroidism use energy more slowly and their metabolism also slows down.4 However, if your thyroid is overactive the gland releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, this results in a condition called hyperthyroidism which speeds up metabolism.5
Detecting thyroid dysfunctions
Many patients remain undiagnosed with thyroid problems and suffer for a long time as their symptoms have been confused with other conditions, such as depression, pregnancy or the menopause. However, it is important to remember that thyroid dysfunction can be confirmed by your doctor through a simple blood test to check the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones in your blood.4. Treatment for thyroid dysfunction is straight forward, well-established and highly effective.
As there is no cure for hypothyroidism, the aim of treatment is to replace the missing thyroid hormone in the body. Taken daily, levothyroxine, which is synthetically produced thyroid hormone, should enable patients to live a symptom free life.4 This medication has been used very successfully since the 1950s.6 However, it is important to remember that treatment is a lifelong commitment and medication has to be taken every day even when symptoms are under control.4
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