January is Thyroid Prevention Month. Facts and stats on the disorder that is more common than diabetes or heart disease, and often goes undiagnosed because of its subtle symptoms

Thyroid Prevention Month

There are two main types of thyroid disorders:
Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). This makes their metabolism slow down. About 80 per cent of patients with thyroid disorders suffer
from hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is the underproduction of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It is less common. A hyperactive thyroid over-produces hormones and works more than it needs to, speeding up your metabolism.

There is no known way to prevent hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. A healthy diet, exercise and proper nutrition are not just the keys to living a healthy life, but also key preventive measures. Reduce stress. If you are a smoker, stop smoking, as smoking can damage the thyroid. Some doctors advise avoiding soy supplements and eating no more than one small serving of soy foods daily.

Why the thyroid counts
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam's apple. Despite being relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a major role in influencing several functions of the body's most important organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Therefore, ensuring the proper functioning of the thyroid is essential to the body's overall health.

Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism. Roughly 80 per cent of total thyroid cases are categorised as hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
muscular weakness and constant fatigue
muscle aches and pains
a weak, slow heart beat
unexplained weight gain
sensitivity to cold
thick, puffy skin
hoarse voice
dry skin and hair
heavy menstrual flow

One way to increase early detection of thyroid nodules is to perform a Thyroid Neck Check, a simple check you can do anytime, developed by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).

What you need:
Glass of water
Hand-held mirror

Hold the mirror in your hand, focusing on the lower front area of your neck, above the collar bone, and below the voice box. This is the area in which the thyroid gland is located.

While looking at this area in the mirror, tip your head back.

Take a drink of water and swallow.

As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for bulges or protrusions in the area while swallowing. Don't confuse the Adam's apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down the neck, closer to the collar bone. Repeat the process as many times as you might need to.

If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, consult a doctor. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether treatment for thyroid disease is needed.

> Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease
> More women suffer from thyroid disorders than men
> The chances of developing a thyroid problem increase with age
> Thyroid disorders tend to be genetic
> Irritability and changes in weight gain are other signs of a thyroid disorder. As the symptoms of thyroid are common, thyroid disorders often go undiagnosed