By Tracey, Pure Matters
January is Thyroid Awareness Month and last year, in an effort to raise awareness about thyroid disorders, I wrote about how my hypothyroidism has affected my life and how I manage the disorder. This year, I thought it would be interesting to talk to someone else who suffers from a thyroid disorder and share his or her story. Since the condition runs in my family, I chatted with my father, Dave, about his hypothyroid diagnosis and how he manages it.
But first, here's a quick primer on hypothyroidism. The National Institute of Health defines it as a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. People diagnosed with hypothyroidism are required to take medicine every day for the rest of their lives. Essentially, the pill replaces the hormone our bodies won't produce.
My dad has dealt with the condition for over 25 years -- here's what he had to say:
When were you diagnosed with hypothyroidism?
I was diagnosed about 25 years ago.
Did you have symptoms that caught your doctor's attention or was it caught during a routine blood screening?
It was caught during a routine screening and it was a surprise to both the doctor and me. The doctor was curious if it ran in my family and to the best of my knowledge, it did not. He then said my kids should be checked since it so commonly is hereditary.
How do you manage your hypothyroidism?
I manage it with prescription medicine and semi-annual appointments. Finding and keeping the correct dosage to stabilize the thyroid can be elusive. Weight gain and loss has affected my dosage as has other life changes.
Has your life changed since your diagnosis?
To a large degree, no. But you do have to manage the dosage, which is an ongoing process. And when the dosage is a little low, I can feel a little lethargic. I don't notice this as often, but when the dosage is high, I can feel a little hyper.
Does anyone else in your family also have a thyroid disorder?
Yes, unfortunately it turns out that both of my children were discovered to have thyroid issues in their late teens or early twenties. Surprisingly, my daughter has hypothyroidism like me and my son has hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in women and usually sets in after the age of 50. But it can really affect anyone. If you have any of the symptoms below, particularly if you're pregnant, see your doctor and ask for a TSH or T4 test to determine thyroid function.
-Thin, brittle hair or nails
-Pale or dry skin
-Swelling of arms or legs
-Sensitivity to cold
-Heavier menstrual periods
-Weight Gain (Unintentional)