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WHAT IS THYROID DISEASE?
Thyroid disorders occur more commonly with increasing age. If you have a thyroid problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will miss out on a happy and healthy life. This section provides information about the role of your thyroid. It also provides information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of thyroid diseases that are common in older patients.
AUTOIMMUNE OR CHRONIC LYMPHOCYTIC THYROIDITIS
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also called autoimmune or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) is the most common thyroid disease in the United States. It is an inherited condition that affects over 10 million Americans and is about seven times more common in women than in men.
BODY IS EXPOSED TO EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF THYROID HORMONE
Hyperthyroidism develops when the body is exposed to excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. This disorder occurs in almost one percent of all Americans and affects women five to ten times more often than men. In its mildest form, hyperthyroidism may not cause recognizable symptoms. More often, however, the symptoms are discomforting, disabling, or even life-threatening.
PRODUCES LESS THAN THE NORMAL AMOUNT OF THYROID HORMONE
An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid gland produces less than the normal amount of thyroid hormone. The result is the “slowing down” of many bodily functions. Although hypothyroidism may be temporary, it usually is a permanent condition. Of the nearly 30 million people estimated to be suffering from thyroid dysfunction, most have hypothyroidism.
UNTREATED THYROID CONDITION CAN HINDER THE ABILITY TO GET PREGNANT
Even before conception, thyroid conditions that have lingered untreated can hinder a woman’s ability to become pregnant or can lead to miscarriage. Fortunately, most thyroid problems that affect pregnancy are easily treated. The difficulty lies in recognizing a thyroid problem during a time when some of the chief complaints - fatigue, constipation, and heat intolerance - can be either the normal side effects of pregnancy or signals that something is wrong with the thyroid.
AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER THAT RESULTS IN THYROID ENLARGEMENT
Graves’ disease (named after Irish physician Robert Graves) is an autoimmune disorder that frequently results in thyroid enlargement and hyperthyroidism. In some patients, swelling of the muscles and other tissues around the eyes may develop, causing eye prominence, discomfort or double vision. Like other autoimmune diseases, this condition tends to affect multiple family members. It is much more common in women than in men and tends to occur in younger patients.
DIABETES IS A HIGHLY PREVALENT & COSTLY CHRONIC DISEASE
The incidence of diabetes is growing at an alarming rate in the United States, and the need for education and action is more critical than ever. Self-management education and training are parts of a collaborative process between Diabetes Educators, patients and healthcare professionals. This collaboration helps empower people with or at risk for diabetes to successfully manage the disease.