Amy Rochford - Jan 20, 2019

Let’s Talk About Your Thyroid Gland and the Importance of its Health

thyroid-awareness-month

“What is this clinical trial blogger doing talking about my thyroid gland?” 

Because it’s January. And January is Thyroid Awareness Month. And because my passion is to educate and help people understand that clinical research as a healthcare option can and should be utilized when appropriate. And even though your thyroid gland may seem insignificant, its overall function is imperative to your total physical and mental health. And because if your thyroid isn’t functioning to its potential, your physical body and/or mental status may start to perform poorly.  Or you might get sick. Or maybe worse. “Simply put, if your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.”

I am a creative, motivated, self-starter who is interested in developing my career in clinical research. I am open to challenging roles in data management or clinical operations.

I may be just a clinical trials blogger, but I have the opportunity through this forum to help you become more informed; Not only about the importance your thyroid gland, but also about clinical trials and how they may be an option to help you or someone you know with thyroid or any other health issues. As of today, January 7, 2019, in the United States, there are over one hundred active and recruiting thyroid related clinical trials listed through the National Institute of Health’s, US National Library of Medicine.

More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.” Although women are affected as much as eight times more than men, it is not solely a women’s health problem. Men, women, and children can all be negatively impacted by a malfunctioning thyroid gland. “Experts believe that between 40 percent and 60 percent of people with thyroid disease do not know they have it.” This statistic highlights the importance of being aware of your thyroid and its health.

 

What exactly is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a part of your body’s endocrine system. The endocrine system includes all the following glands in your body: adrenal glands, thyroid gland, a pituitary gland, pineal gland, pancreas, thymus, and hypothalamus. And depending on your gender, males have testes and females have ovaries. The endocrine system oversees hormone manufacture and distribution. The thyroid gland’s role can be thought of as the system that is in control of your body’s speed. If the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body can start to race; your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure will rise as well as your digestion and you may experience diarrhea. If your thyroid does not produce enough hormone, the opposite can happen and can have you experience constipation. Other glands in the endocrine system oversee or control things like connecting the system, communicating throughout the system, making melatonin, controlling calcium and phosphorus, as well as making other hormones and enzymes. 

Thyroid

The physical appearance of the thyroid gland is best-described as a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits right about where a bow tie would sit, if you were to wear a bow tie around your neck. In fact, some say the thyroid can resemble a bow tie as well. Although small in comparison with other bodily organs, your thyroid has influence over many of your body’s operations. Most of the time, you probably forget that it’s even there, but you need to be aware of its presence and its health.

 

How can I make sure that my thyroid gland stays healthy?

You can take the following precautions to ensure your a) thyroid is healthy and b) if it’s not, that you get medical attention promptly.

  1. Take note of your family history; Thyroid problems tend to be genetic in nature, so document and share the medical history of your parents, siblings, and children with each other. If your family happens to have any issues, it is recommended for you to get a TSH evaluation. TSH stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone and its level is tested by a simple blood test.
  2. Be aware of your thyroid’s health and perform a Neck Check. If you see or feel any bulges or protrusions, again, it is recommended to get your TSH evaluated.
  3. Certain medications can affect TSH levels. Talk with your physician if you have any concerns about any medications you are taking.
  4. If you’ve had radiation therapy for acne, tonsils, or enlarged thymus, you should consider having your TSH evaluated.
  5. “If you lived near Chernobyl at the time of the 1986 nuclear accident, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.”

These points can also be reviewed at this website for Thyroid Awareness.

 

What if I am diagnosed with a thyroid condition?

If you happen to become diagnosed with a thyroid condition, you can, in conjunction with following your health care provider’s treatment instructions, search for a clinical trials that coincide with your condition. The purpose of clinical trials is to improve treatments, treatment options and/or quality of life. Clinical trials must prove that new treatments and treatment options are safe and effective. Clinical trials can be observational (there is no intervention – no other drug or device) or interventional (there is a drug or device being tested). There are a variety of reasons that people participate in clinical trials. Some people want access to advanced treatment while others are more altruistic and want to help others.

In a time that can be chaotic and distressing, as you deal with your diagnosis, searching for a clinical trial should not be cumbersome and overwhelming, like it is most of the time. Since there are a variety of search tools to choose from on the internet, you want to be sure to check the source of these tools. Using the database from clinicaltrials.gov, TrialScout.com’s mission is to help you find both the right clinical trial and at the right research center in the most user-friendly way possible.

Anyone can search for the best care possible. Anyone can search for clinical trials. Not everyone will qualify to participate, but the option is out there. Clinical research as a care option is real and should be used when it is right for you.

Written by Amy Rochford

Amy is a data analyst and self-described jack-of-all-trades at TrialScout. Amy is a transplant who moved to Buffalo three years ago, bringing experience from multiple industries including clinical trial operations, physician office management, and travel and tourism management. Amy’s time is consumed by her husband, two young boys, two dogs, and many foster dogs.

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