Monday, May 26, 2014

Celebrate the Seventh Annual World Thyroid Day

It's not just cats and dogs that develop thyroid disease. Approximately 750 million people worldwide are affected by thyroid disorders, and the Seventh Annual World Thyroid Day, being held this weekend, has 5 major goals, say the organizations who support it. These include the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the European Thyroid Association, the Asia Oceania Thyroid Association, and the Latin American Thyroid Society.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism and influence every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, they point out. Hypothyroidism is characterized by symptoms of fatigue, depression, and forgetfulness, while hyperthyroidism is associated with irritability, nervousness, and muscle weakness.

The aims of World Thyroid Day are the following:
  • Increase awareness of thyroid health. 
  • Promote understanding of advances made in treating thyroid diseases. 
  • Emphasize the prevalence of thyroid diseases. 
  • Focus on the urgent need for education and prevention programs.
  • Expand awareness of new treatment modalities.
The thyroid gland, butterfly-shaped and located in the middle of the lower neck, produces hormones that influence every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The thyroid hormones regulate the body's metabolism—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen—and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

The thyroid also plays a critical role during pregnancy, the thyroid societies explain. Consequently, the ATA recommends that pregnant women at high risk for thyroid disease should have their thyroid function tested early in their pregnancy. Another important issue is thyroid cancer, which is rapidly increasing, according to the ATA, which says there were 44,670 new cases of thyroid cancer recorded in 2010 in the United States.

But when thyroid cancer is identified and treated early, "the majority of patients can be completely cured," the American Thyroid Association stresses. The organization also notes that it is important to distinguish thyroid cancer from benign thyroid nodules, which are common in the population.

Patient education on human thyroid conditions can be found on the ATA website at http://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/.