Ten Questions to Ask About Your Thyroid Health

Ask the average American what they know about their thyroid gland and chances are they’ll tell you they’re pretty sure they have one. Beyond that, a surprising number of people are uninformed about the gland’s crucial activities, which influence the proper operation of everything from the heart and brain to the liver, kidneys and skin.

It’s only when thyroid function goes awry that many people become aware of its importance. And that includes an estimated 26 to 28 million Americans with thyroid disease, half of whom are unaware of their condition.

A diagnosis of a thyroid disorder may be delayed or missed entirely because symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, fatigue, weight gain or loss, muscle aches and weakness can be vague, mild or appear gradually. These symptoms (and others) also can be easily attributed to other conditions or circumstances, or the side effects of certain medication.

And once diagnosed, the treatment regimen can sometimes be confusing. With thyroid replacement hormone, for example, certain other medications can interfere with its effectiveness. For that reason, thyroid medication typically needs to be taken one hour before or three to four hours after other medication.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) is working to improve patient knowledge of thyroid health with its straightforward list of “10 Questions To Ask About Your Thyroid Health.” The cornerstone of AACE’s 2015 thyroid awareness efforts, the five questions to ask your doctor and five to ask your pharmacist is a jumping-off point to engage thyroid patients in an open dialogue with their healthcare professionals and to arm them with the information needed to become their own thyroid health advocates.

“Because so many people are unfamiliar with the thyroid’s function, common symptoms of a thyroid condition and the importance of proper treatment, we wanted to provide a simple tool that would help them more easily navigate their way through a diagnosis of thyroid disease,” said Dr. R. Mack Harrell, a thyroid expert and president of AACE. “Thyroid problems can dramatically increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, infertility and a host of other health problems, so it's vital that you become knowledgeable and proactive to protect your health.”

For a downloadable PDF of AACE’s “10 Questions To Ask About Your Thyroid Health” to present to your primary physician, endocrinologist (a physician who specializes in endocrine disorders such as thyroid disease) and your pharmacist, or for comprehensive information regarding the thyroid gland, we invite you to visit www.thyroidawareness.com.