1. Home
  2. Thyroid Disease
  3. Introduction

These days, we hear so much about diabetes and heart disease — the rising incidence of both and the terrible toll they're taking on our nation's health and economy. But there's another condition that affects even more Americans: thyroid disease. The problem is, many people don't even know they have it.

According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, there are 27 million people in this country with some form of thyroid disease. Approximately half are unaware. But before you shrug it off as being less serious than heart disease or less bothersome than diabetes, consider this: having thyroid disease actually elevates your risk for both heart disease and diabetes. Those are just two reasons why thyroid health is so important.

Having a healthy thyroid has numerous implications for your life, your health, and your happiness. A healthy thyroid makes it easier for you to maintain your body weight, keeps depression at bay, and gives your cells the energy they need for all the activities you do. The proper amount of thyroid hormone is also essential for menstrual regularity, pregnancy, and the delivery of a healthy baby. An unhealthy thyroid, on the other hand, can cause problems as diverse as dry hair, difficulty concentrating, and muscle aches. It can make you perpetually uneasy, constantly exhausted, and sweaty for no good reason. In short, the thyroid gland affects virtually every aspect of your health and well-being.

That said, you may wonder how anyone could have a thyroid problem and not know it. It's simple. Many people with thyroid disease are being treated for their symptoms instead, especially if their TSH levels are only borderline abnormal. So rather than being properly treated for a thyroid problem, they're being given remedies for specific symptoms. An antidepressant for depression. A sleeping pill for insomnia. Stool softeners for constipation. For many people, treatment for the underlying thyroid disorder could correct all these symptoms — and even some that you might not know are associated with thyroid disease, such as high cholesterol.

That's why this book is so vital. Here, you will find the information, guidance, and strategies you need to get properly diagnosed and treated. You'll also learn the pitfalls of untreated thyroid disease and the perks of getting your thyroid condition under control.

By reading this book, you will glean the basic medical knowledge you need to talk intelligently with your doctor about your thyroid condition, so that you can ask smart questions, get the right tests, and get the appropriate treatments. More specifically, you will learn to distinguish a nodule from a goiter, a thyroid problem from postpartum depression, and hyperthyroidism from panic disorder. Best of all, you will do all this without wading through heavy medical terminology.

As you may already know, learning to deal with a thyroid condition — or any health problem for that matter — takes time, patience, and practice. At first, you may be frustrated by all the uncertainty as you try to determine whether you even have a thyroid problem. Then you have to wait for the medication to kick in or for the date of your radioactive iodine treatment to come, all the while still coping with the aggravating symptoms. Once you're treated, you may still have problems with your weight or experience recurrent symptoms or even new ones. All medical conditions come with their share of frustrations, and thyroid disease is no exception.

No, it's not always easy to have a thyroid disorder. But the good news about thyroid disease is that most people are readily treated and go on to live perfectly normal, healthy lives. The key to getting well and staying well is knowledge. You need to know what to do in order to be healthy. By picking up this book, you've made a commitment to learn as much as you can about your thyroid. And that's one giant first step toward better health.

  1. Home
  2. Thyroid Disease
  3. Introduction
Visit other About.com sites: