Hi All! Welcome to 2013! Hope the new year is treating you well so far! Well, it’s January. The Holidays are over, the decorations are coming down, and we are easing back into our everyday routines. School will start up again soon and work vacations are coming to a close.

With this first month on the calendar comes a clean slate, and a chance to make changes in the coming year. One good way to make a change is to spread awareness, and learn about serious issues that effect individuals across the globe, with the following information hitting close to home for us, as our Mother still struggles with thyroid issues, as did her Mother before her. January gives us such an opportunity, as it is Thyroid Awareness Month.

“What exactly is Thyroidism?”, you ask? Although Thyroidism may not seem to be a “prominent” disease like Cancer or Diabetes, it effects over 200 Million of People worldwide, and roughly half of that number are still undiagnosed. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Thyroid is an auto-immune disease with two extremes – Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism and it’s symptoms are caused by overproduction of Thyroid hormones, but can have several different outcomes, including:

  • Graves Disease – Production of too much thyroid hormone
  • Toxic adenomas – Aggravating your body’s chemical balance as a result of nodules that developed in the thyroid gland
  • Subacute thyroiditis – Temporary hyperthyroidism, generally lasting a few weeks, caused by a “leak” of excess hormones as a result of inflammation in the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism can also, although rarely, be caused by malfunctions in the pituitary gland and cancerous growths in the thyroid gland. If left undiagnosed, this illness can lead to heart attacks (as a result of consistently rapid heartbeat), high blood pressure, intolerance to heat, fatigue, hair loss, brittle hair and nails and excessive weight loss.

    The other extreme of thyroidism is Hypothyroidism, which is caused by underproduction of thyroid hormones, which causes your energy level to drop. This too can have several results in outcome, including:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – Thyroid tissue is attacked by your body, which causes the tissue to eventually die and stop production of hormones.
  • Removal of the thyroid gland – Either surgically removed or chemically destroyed, i.e. radioactive iodine.
  • Exposure to excessive amounts of iodide – This includes cold and sinus medicines, the heart medicine amiodarone, or contrast dyes given before some X-rays. these substances may expose you to too much iodine.
  • Lithium – This drug is also linked to causing hypothyroidism.

    If untreated for an extended period of time, hypothyroidism could also result in a myxadema coma, a rare condition that requires immediate hormone injections, but has the potential to be fatal. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include intolerance to cold, dry skin, fatigue, joint pain and excessive weight gain.

    Hypothyroidism also poses a danger to newborns and infants (A lack of thyroid hormones in the system at an early age can lead to the development of cretinism, a form of mental retardation, as well as stunted growth, known as dwarfism). Likewise to adults, hypothyroidism in infants can be caused by a pituitary disorder, a defective thyroid or lack of the gland entirely. *Most states require immediate testing of infants.