Thyroid disease is a fact of life for 20 million Americans, and more than half of those people remain undiagnosed.
Thyroid disease is very common. It’s caused when the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, located in the neck, is not functioning properly, says Dr. Carmel Fratianni, associate professor of endocrinology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. She explains one of the thyroid disorders.
“Probably the most common thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism, which means a condition when the body makes too little thyroid hormone. It is actually quite common as we age and more common in women than in men. It is readily diagnosed by use of a TSH test or thyroid stimulating hormone test ...”
Other thyroid disorders include an enlargement of the thyroid, called a goiter, and other growths in the neck which can be benign or cancerous.
Hyperthyroidism is another disease in which the thyroid produces too much hormone, causing anxiety, loss of weight and an irregular heartbeat. Dr. Fratianni explains the treatment for hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid.
“... if a patient has an underactive thyroid, fortunately we have the ability to give them back thyroid hormone and use common varieties of levothyroxine, which is manufactured in a laboratory to replace the thyroid hormone that the body is not making.”
Dr. Fratianni advises people who have symptoms for thyroid disorders to see their primary care physician or endocrinologist for evaluation and possible treatment.