• Thyroid Screening

    Thyroid disease has affected around 27 million people in the United States but more than 50 percent of those affected are not even aware they are suffering from the symptoms of thyroid cancer.

    The proper functioning of the thyroid affects a person’s metabolism.  When one is suffering from thyroid disorder, the body’s use of energy becomes faster than normal energy usage. Persons suffering from thyroid problems should undergo an ultrasound scan to determine the gravity of the problem.

    Who should get a thyroid screening test?

    The American Thyroid Association recommended thyroid screening test once every five years for persons who are 35 years of age or over. However, women who are 60 years old or over, and men who are 70 years old or over, should get the TSH every year. Concerns about the increasing cases of thyroid illness resulted to the call of ATA for universal thyroid screening.

    Thyroid screening test involves the drawing out of blood through the process known as TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test. The ATA has also recommended the conduct of the Free T3 and Free T4 tests to detect thyroid problem in women in order to get better and early diagnosis. This is especially true for those with symptoms of thyroid cancer including:

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Changes in weight
    • Fatigue
    • Hair loss

    So what does the TSH result mean? The normal level is between 0.3 TSH and 3.0 TSH. When the TSH level is less than the minimum range then it may be an indication of hyperthyroidism. If the TSH level is more than the minimum then it can be an indication of hypothyroidism. People who have normal levels of TSH should also get the Free T3 and Free T4 tests if they experience the symptoms or if autoimmune disease runs in the family.

    The thyroid is an important part of the body since it produces hormones that stimulate growth and metabolism. It also influences the capability of the body to process calories.

    One of the most common problems identified with the thyroid is hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid which could manifest through weight gain, decreased libido, memory loss and cold intolerance among others. This happens when the immune cells of the body attack the thyroid gland. If you are experiencing these symptoms then a blood test can help determine your condition.

    Another thyroid-related problem is hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. A person with too much thyroid hormone in the body can experience the symptoms of hyperthyroidism including:

    • Graves disease
    • Tumors in the ovaries or testes
    • Thyroid or pituitary gland growth

    It is important to get regular thyroid screening test in order to detect thyroid problems early even before they develop into cancer. This is especially needed for those who live in areas where there is not much opportunity for getting iodine. Also watch out for thyroid nodules which can cause problems in swallowing and breathing. Worse, they can produce higher levels of thyroxine which can result to irregular beating of the heart, and nervousness.

    References:

    http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsthyr.htm

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