Deborah Norville was one of them. Could you be another?
This tiny gland in your neck controls your metabolism, regulates your body temperature, keeps your heart pumping, affects how you breathe and lots more. It's called your thyroid, and more than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid problem at some point in their lives.
Some common conditions include an underactive thyroid, an overactive thyroid or even thyroid cancer.
"It's clearly on the rise, unlike most other malignancies that are actually decreasing in incidence," Tampa General Hospital thyroid surgeon Dr. Gary Clayman said.
Some signs to watch out for are weight gain or weight loss, a fast or slow heartbeat, energy or mood changes, hair loss, feeling too hot or cold, fatigue and swelling in your neck, which could be a goiter or nodule. These lumps are especially common in women.
"If you're a woman and you live long enough, you will develop thyroid nodules," Clayman said.
You can spot an enlarged thyroid by doing a mirror check. Simply tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below your Adam's apple and above your collarbone. If you see a bulge or lump, make sure your doctor checks it out right away.
Although thyroid cancer is on the rise, it's still a rare cancer. Only about 5 percent of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous.
Treatment options for thyroid disorders depend on your particular condition but usually involve medications and, sometimes, surgery.
SPOTTING THYROID PROBLEMS: YOU AND DEBORAH NORVILLE?
BACKGROUND: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower base of your neck. It produces a hormone that regulates and affects how your body functions. The hormone travels to all parts of your body through your blood and controls many activities in your body, such as your energy, how fast you burn calories, your heart rate, and how fast your heart beats. Around 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of these individuals aren't aware of the condition. Undiagnosed thyroid disease can be dangerous as it can expose patients to a more serious disease such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and infertility. Even though the causes of thyroid disease are completely unknown, statistics show that more than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, most of which are life-long conditions that can be easily managed. Additionally, statistics show that women are five to eight times more likely than men to have a thyroid disease and, if they don't develop it right after pregnancy or after menopause, one in eight will develop it later on. (Source: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/thyroid-disease and https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/)
THYROID SYMPTOMS: The most common thyroid problem is hyperthyroidism which causes your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone than you need and, as a result your metabolism and heart rate speed up. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation. Individuals with hypothyroidism suffer from the opposite; their thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which is why they may experience different levels of symptoms. Not everyone experiences it the same way; in fact, most people only experience some of the symptoms like fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and weight gain. However, in some severe cases, people have experienced slowed speech, jaundice, and increase in tongue size. (Source: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-hypothyroidism)
POTENTIAL THERAPY FOR TREATMENT-RESISTANT HYPOTHYROIDISM: Researchers at Rush University Medical Center have taken an improved approach for treating hypothyroid patients who respond poorly to standard therapy. The research shows that when a patient takes L-T3, the synthetic form of a more active thyroid triiodothyronine, it gets immediately absorbed, but when they take Poly-Zinc-Liothyronine (PZL), it releases slower being able to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it more effective and has less of a shock for the body. PZL is a new metal-coordinated drug which is a compound made of zinc bound to three L-T3 molecules. After doing studies in rats, the results were so remarkable that this drug could potentially be used instead of the current standard therapy for hypothyroidism. "We know enough about thyroid physiology in rats and humans that we feel confident that this drug is ready for prime time," said Dr. Antonio Bianco, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. However, it may be a few years before PZL is offered to patients because other tests and clinical trials still need to be conducted and funding needs to take place. (Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181012135315.htm)