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January 20, 2016

Feeling extra cold this winter? It might be your thyroid

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Take our quiz to learn more about common conditions.

 

January is thyroid awareness month. Perhaps that’s appropriate for people with underactive thyroid glands — they tend to be sensitive to the cold. How much else do you know about this butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of your neck? Answer these questions and see answers below. Plus, read up on these tips from Lindsay Ann Bischoff, M.D., an endocrinologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center about when to get checked out.

 

1. Which fact about thyroid disease and women is true?

A. Thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer in women.
B. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
C. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disease in her lifetime.
D. All of the above.

 

2. True or false? The thyroid gland produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body.

 

3. Which of these is needed in your diet for the production of thyroid hormone?

A. Iron
B. Iodine
C. Omega-3 fatty acids
D. All of the above

 

4. True or false? If you have a thyroid condition, you will know because you will likely gain a lot of weight.

 

 

 

Answers

1. Which fact about thyroid disease and women is true?

Answer: D. All of the above.

 

2. True or false? The thyroid gland produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body.

Answer: True

The thyroid makes thyroid hormone — 90 percent of which is T4 and 5 percent of which is T3. The body converts T4 to T3 in the rest of the cells. “These active thyroid hormones have effects on many organs, including the heart, GI tract and the nervous system,” Bischoff says.

 

3. Which of these is needed in your diet for the production of thyroid hormone?

Answer: B. Iodine

Iodine deficiency is very rare in the United States. “Even if people use non-iodized salt in their cooking,” Bischoff says, “packaged and restaurant foods most often contain iodized salt. In addition, dairy products, meat, seafood, bread and eggs contain iodine.”

 

4. True or false? If you have a thyroid condition, you will know because you will likely gain a lot of weight.

Answer: False

Common symptoms of an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) often include fatigue and weight gain, while common symptoms of an over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety.

“It is often difficult to know if these symptoms are thyroid-related or from other issues,” Bischoff says. “Because thyroid conditions are so common, it is important to have your TSH checked if you have these symptoms.”

 

 

Also talk to your doctor about a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test if you have a family history of autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease), or a personal history of autoimmune disease.

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