Keeping Ahead of Thyroid Disorder

by Roz Brown

A popular thyroid medication is the second most filled drug at American pharmacies, according to GoodRx, and women are more likely than men to suffer from the disorder. 
January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, president of the American Thyroid Association, says thyroid disorders, which affect the thyroid gland toward the bottom of the neck, tend to spike as women age.

Hypothyroidism, the most common thyroid disorder, is when the thyroid produces too few hormones. According to Pearce, hypothyroidism affects 1 percent of the population enough to need thyroid supplements and 5 to 10 percent at a subclinical level, many of whom don’t need medication. A blood test measuring TSH levels determines whether you have a thyroid disorder.

A second form of thyroid disorder is hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland is overactive. Pearce says only half of 1 percent of Americans suffer from that. She also notes that thyroid cancer, which is usually treatable, is on the rise.

Pearce says one cause of thyroid disorder globally is iodine deficiency, which hasn’t been a problem in the U.S. for about a century.But she cautions that in the past decade, greater iodine deficiency has been noted among women who are pregnant.

For more information about thyroid disease, visit thyroid.org.