How To Know If It’s Time To Get Your Thyroid Checked!!
Dear Dr. Adeyi,
I have been feeling ill recently: Over the last few months, I have been losing weight unintentionally, and noticed that I constantly feel more anxious which causes my heart to race. I have also noticed that I constantly feel hot even when others around me feel the room is normal temperature or even cool. My mother mentioned that we have a family history of thyroid problems, should I be concerned?
Thyroid disorders are relatively common disorders in Africa, but many patients have a delay in diagnosis because the symptoms of thyroid disorder are similar to those of other ailments. The thyroid gland sits low at the front of the neck and releases hormones that control the body’s metabolism such as breathing, weight, body temperature, heart rate and the nervous system.
From the description of your symptoms Anonymous, there is a chance that you may have an overactive thyroid – also known as Hyperthyroidism. It will be important for you to see your primary doctor for a clinical exam and laboratory workup. Your doctor will ask you more about symptoms such as the level of your anxiety, fast heartbeat, and hand tremor, sweating and weight loss. They will also evaluate the size or bulge of your eyes, the size and feel of your neck, the rate and pattern of your heartbeat, appearance of your skin, etc. They will also do lab work that shows if the thyroid is over (or even under) functioning, as well as additional lab work to identify the cause of the thyroid problem and if it has affected other organs.
There are many ways to treat thyroid problems, depending on if the problem is an overactive or underactive thyroid. For patients with an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism), treatment options are either medications or a radioactive iodine treatment or surgery depending on the cause and the extent of the disorder. Your primary doctor will discuss the specific treatment options with you, and likely refer you to an Endocrinologist (a specialist for diseases related to glands).
So, in summary: your symptoms should be evaluated further, and if the cause is Hyperthyroidism there are a variety of treatment of options to ensure you get back into good health.
Working to keep you healthy,
Dr. Sade Adeyi MD MPH
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