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Thyroid nodules
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Thyroid nodules

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Endocrine System


Experts Change Low Thyroid Diagnosis Criteria

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) now says that TSH level between 3.0 and 5.0 uU/ml should be considered suspect. This is a major reversal of the long held view that a person ONLY had hypothyroidism if their TSH is above 5.0.

This is the first time a conventional U.S. medical organization has acknowledged that the upper half of the TSH test's normal range may not in fact be normal, but rather, evidence of developing hypothyroidism, or a level that is potentially able to cause hypothyroidism symptoms in patients.

Nearly 13 million Americans have thyroid disease, but more than half of these people remain undiagnosed. Additionally, fewer than 15% of Americans can identify the times of life when thyroid disease most often strikes:

  • the post-childbirth period
  • menopause
  • and after age 60

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck.

Through the production of thyroid hormones, the organ is involved in regulating metabolism -- how the body uses energy and at what speed.

There are various thyroid conditions including:

  • hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • thyroiditis (inflamed thyroid)

Untreated thyroid disease may result in:

  • infertility
  • muscle weakness
  • osteoporosis

AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) experts recommend that people experiencing some of the sometimes-subtle symptoms of thyroid disease -- such as

Depression a sense of being too cold or too hot
fatigue memory difficulties
heart rate disturbances hair loss

-- undergo a blood test that measures levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH tells the thyroid to produce more of its hormone in response to the body's perception that the levels of essential thyroid hormone are low.

Women who are unable to conceive should have their thyroid checked because an underactive thyroid can interfere with conception. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid disease. Women should also undergo TSH testing during pregnancy to ensure that their levels of thyroid hormone are appropriate.

A few months after delivery, some women are diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is often mistaken for postpartum depression.

Menopause is another time of life in which women should be tested for thyroid disease. Menopausal symptoms such as skin dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, depression and weight gain mimic those of thyroid disease.

People over 60 should be tested if they experience fatigue, depression and forgetfulness.

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) Press Release in New York Jan 18, 2001


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