Friday, March 8, 2013

Thyroid Autoimmune Disease

Often times, I'll get a medical question that seems simple in the beginning-- but is really complex in the end. Someone needs a medical condition with which to afflict their character.

Autoimmune/endocrine diseases are a good option for this because unlike the crushing pain of a heart attack (that tends to be easier to diagnose)-- these illnesses can be vague and their symptoms can mimic a number of other diseases so diagnosis can be delayed for months and even years.

I'm happy to host Stacey Thureen who is talking about one of these endocrine/autoimmune diseases. Thyroid disease and one specific manifestation that is an actual autoimmune disease as well.

Welcome, Stacey!

It’s more common than heart disease or diabetes. In fact, just like breast cancer in women, it affects 1 in 8 women nationwide.

What is it? Thyroid disease

The statistics are staggering. The demographics it covers is daunting. Nearly 30 million Americans with half who don’t even know they have it, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

And then there’s thyroid autoimmune diseases which are very common in the United States. According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, the National Institutes of Health estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million.

All of this is timely information because March is National Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month. This hits close to home because in June of 2011 I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis after undergoing a partial thyroidectomy. Since then I’ve continued to share my thyroid journey through writing and speaking opportunities.

As the AARDA points out, the challenge with autoimmune diseases is symptoms cross many specialties and can affect several body organs. Autoimmune diseases also tend to be hereditary.

For example, with Hashimoto’s many of the signs and symptoms can include:
·         Fatigue and sluggishness
·         Heat/cold intolerance
·         Constipation
·         unexplained weight gain occurring infrequently and rarely exceeding 10 to 20 pounds; most of which is fluid
·         muscle aches
·         menstrual and fertility problems
·         depression
As you can see, a lot of these symptoms cross over other ailments and can be treated individually, not necessarily as a whole. This can make an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s very confusing to diagnose.
So what is Hashimoto’s exactly? Hashimoto's disease is when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes hypothyroidism. When hypothyroidism occurs, the thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to help regulate the body's metabolism. Symptoms may include weight gain, cold sensitivity/intolerance, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, depression and fertility problems to name a few.
Hashimoto’s is typically treated the exact same way as hypothyroidism. A person is prescribed daily thyroid medication and routine blood tests to monitor thyroid levels.
According to the AACE, Hashimoto’s is the most common of all thyroid conditions in the United States. Women are affected five to ten times more often than men, and are usually diagnosed during middle age.

So what can you do to educate yourself, and perhaps utilize this information in your writing? Learn more about autoimmune diseases by going to this national autoimmune disease website AARDA.org. There you can read more about other autoimmune diseases like lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimotos, Graves’ disease, and multiple sclerosis to name a few.

On Labor Day of 2012 I became a mom for the first time. If you’re a mom like me then head over to autoimmunemom.com. I’m a contributing writer for the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis section, and this is a great place to learn from other moms as well as healthcare professionals about autoimmune diseases.

Finally, in honor of autoimmune awareness month I’ll be talking more about my journey on Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m. EST with Blog Talk Radio’s Doctors of the USA radio program. Feel free to tune in to learn more about autoimmune diseases and other helpful information that you might find helpful in your writing journey.

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Stacey Thureen currently works on a variety of freelance writing, media and communications projects for small businesses, non-profits, print media, and production. Stacey continues to be an active voice in raising thyroid awareness. She was featured in the January 2012 edition of Empower Magazine, has been a live guest on the Boston-based Jordan Rich radio show, as well as eFitFamily radio. She regularly blogs about her personal experience, writes about thyroid health for Examiner.com, and is a contributing writer for AutoimmuneMom.com. In June 2012, one year after her thyroid surgery, Stacey’s story A New Voice was featured on I am Second.

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