Friday, January 13, 2012

Check Your Neck

Thyroid Awareness January 2012
January is Thyroid Awareness Month and I'd like to share some information about thyroid disease, as it's on the rise in children and adults and it's not uncommon for people to go years before getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Many people do not know what the thyroid gland is until they are diagnosed, not to mention how important its function is to our quality of life. The most common form of thyroid disease is hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone) caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid and destroying it, known as Hashimoto's disease. I suffer from Hashimoto's disease, which has caused me to become hypothyroid. However, you can become hypothyroid without having the autoimmune disease. You can also become hypothyroid after having the thyroid removed for thyroid cancer, or be born without a thyroid. The other form of autoimmune thyroid disease is Graves' disease, which causes hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone). Regardless of the type, a malfunctioning thyroid causes a host of symptoms because the thyroid is responsible for just about every function in the body, so if your thyroid is not working properly you can not function properly. A prompt diagnosis and proper treatment is very important to avoid it wreaking havoc on one's life. 
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain (including nerve pain), muscle weakness, dry hair, hair loss, dry itchy skin, dry eyes, poor memory and cognition, sleep apnea, weight gain, weight loss, a feeling of swelling in the neck, bowel problems, menstrual and fertility problems, depression, anxiety, and high cholesterol. 
Hyperthyroidism carries some of the same symptoms as hypothyroidism such as fatigue, memory problems and bowel problems, but more commonly someone might have palpitations, fast or irregular heart beat, irritability, anxiety, increased perspiration, weight loss, and shortness of breath. If autoimmune Graves' disease is the cause of a person's hyperthyroidism, they also have the risk of developing thyroid eye disease (TED). Some people can have both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. 
The above information and lists of symptoms is not complete and varies in each individual. For more information about thyroid disease and How to Check your Neck Mary Shomon @ website has great information and is the author of several great books on thyroid disease.
Thyroid Awareness Art
I made this pair of earrings today for Thyroid Awareness month. They are made with sterling silver-filled wire and Swarovski crystals. They are available from my Etsy Shop and 20% of all sales will be donated to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, AARDA

If you haven't seen Allyson Jones Averell's art, you must go take a look. This photo shows a body painting Ally did for Thyroid Awareness 2012 on herself. She used the word "Believe" and painted a "Butterfly" with flowers on her neck in honor of Thyroid Awareness. The butterfly is well known as the symbol for the thyroid gland. You can find Ally and her beautiful artwork on Facebook at this link - You can see her body painting from last year here - and read why she chose the word "Believe" in her artwork this year here - 
"Story of the Shield Gland"
Timely diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease is a worldwide problem and I recently learned while talking to Anna, a thyroid patient from Sweden, that thyroid patients in Sweden refer to themselves as "turtles". That seemed strange to me at first because I couldn't imagine how the turtle related to the thyroid. Anna carries with her a beautiful turtle pendent as a sort of mascot. She told me, "Turtles are often used as symbols for us, as they're called "sk√∂ldpaddor" (shield frogs). Anna related the turtle to "Zeno and Aesop and their story of the slow and ridiculed tortoise that eventually reaches the finish line in front of the hare. I think it suits us, nice and slow, but we'll reach our goal in time with hard work and struggling." The turtle now has a new meaning for me and I think of it as a shield of protection. I think you'll agree, Anna's turtle pendent is beautiful and I can see why it has become her "mascot". 


  1. I'll be the first to comment on my own blog, lol. I'm still new to blogging and I have no idea why the formatting came out like it did? I'll have to fiddle around with the settings and hopefully can figure it out, but it's readable so I'll leave it as is for now, and hope I have passed on some information you didn't know before that will maybe help you or someone in your life.

  2. Looks great! I enjoyed the story you shared - she's a beautiful artist. Thanks for sharing. Cindy


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