Do thyroid problems run in the family?
Overall, thyroid diseases affect women much more frequently than men. More than eight out of ten patients with thyroid disease are women. Being female, over forty years of age, having a close family member with thyroid disease, and recently having a baby are factors that can increase the chance of thyroid disease. A woman faces as high as one in five chance of developing thyroid problems during her lifetime, a risk that increases with age. And for those with a family history of thyroid problems, the risks are even higher.
Family history linked to early thyroid diagnoses
Researchers have found that family history and the lower median age at diagnosis are factors significantly associated with thyroid illness. However, most Americans are not aware of the association. To counteract this lack of awareness, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has launched a new campaign: "The Neck's Generation: Thyroid Genealogy" to spotlight the link between genetics and thyroid disease.
A family concern
Health issues are a family concern. Research shows that there is a strong connection between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, anemia, and arthritis. Because autoimmune diseases are hereditary and some health problems run in a family tree, AACE recommends Americans pay particular attention to health issues among family members. Education and communication are key to early diagnosis.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, just below the Adam's apple and above the collarbone. Thyroid diseases affect more than thirteen million Americans - unfortunately more than half remain undiagnosed. Researchers recommend that people with a family history of thyroid disease get tested, especially if they are experiencing some of the most common symptoms. It is estimated that more than half of the American population has never been tested for thyroid disease.
What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?
The most common symptoms of thyroid disease include fatigue, forgetfulness, depression and changes in weight or appetite. Also common are symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, sensitive eyes, heart palpitations and hand tremors. It is very easy to explain away symptoms. After all, most Americans work very long hours, juggle many responsibilities and are getting older. It is only normal to sometimes feel tired. Isn't it?
Compounding the urge to explain away thyroid symptoms is the fact that, like other autoimmune symptoms, thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Graves ‘ disease also have a tendency to appear during or after periods of stress.
Ask your doctor
If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, speak to your doctor. Your health care professional will want to know about your family history. Do you have parents, grandparents, siblings or children with thyroid disease? Do any of your family members have other autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis? If so you will need to discuss this with your doctor.
Note: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. This site should not be used in place of professional medical advice. The author is not a physician. For medical emergencies, call 911!
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