A Pledge to Raise Awareness Against Thyroid Disorders

“Wag ka iinom ng malamig na tubig, magkakathyroid ka!”
“Iodized salt gamitin mo para hindi ka magka-thyroid.”
“May thyroid sya kaya may bukol sa leeg”
“Sige, kapag hindi mo tinigilan kakasigaw mo, magkaka-thyroid ka.”

 

Any of these lines sound familiar? They sound kind of funny but, unfortunately, these are very common misconceptions Filipinos have about thyroid.  It’s no wonder many have thyroid disorders but are not even aware of them.  This is why there is a great need to step up on the campaign to raise awareness about thyroid disorders. Before I tell you all about the campaign, here are a few quick facts about thyroid:

 

Quick Facts About Thyroid

  • We all have thyroid! “Thyroid” is not a disease; it is a gland.  It’s essential because it produces hormones that help keep the body use energy and stay warm, and that keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs in tip-top condition.
  • Common thyroid disorders include goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid nodules, and cancer. They all have different symptoms AND they cannot be prevented just by using iodized food on all your food!
  • Most symptoms of thyroid disorders are mistaken for other diseases which makes diagnosis quite confusing even for doctors.  The easiest way to diagnosis thyroid disorders is through a blood test to check levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood.
  • You can do a self-assessment to check if you are at risk.  Just take this quick test to find out if you absolutely must see your doctor now.  You may also find the test at www.thyroid.ph.

It’s Not You, It’s Your Thyroid Quiz

How many of these facts did you actually know beforehand?  You’re in the minority if you’ve known most of them!

 

International Thyroid Awareness Week

For diseases that are so common, it’s bothering to know that not many people are aware of these diseases.  This is precisely why MERCK in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Thyroid Association (PTA), Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (PSEDM), and the Iodine Global Network (IGN) holds the annual International Thyroid Awareness Week.  They have been holding series of activities every year to inform the public about the symptoms of thyroid disorders, to dispel myths about them, and to provide proper care and treatment to those who may be suffering from these diseases.

ITAW 2017 Culminating Program

This year, I was able to attend the culminating program held at the Trade Hall of Robinson’s Novaliches last May 26. Since thyroid disorders affect mostly women, the activities were targeted for women.  Participants not only received free doctor’s consultation but also had much needed pampering while learning more about thyroid disorders.

The event kicked off with some Zumba dancers showing off steps that we can easily do in our own homes. All participants were given a card which they could have stamped after each activity.  There were four activities that all attendees must complete – the Video Viewing, Thyroid Quiz, Doctor’s Consultation, and Photobooth.

First, the attendees were asked to watch a short video about thyroid and disorders associated with it. The video was presented in a way that everything could be easily understood by the ordinary Juan.

Watch the Video at Thyroid.ph

After this, a short quiz was given – no, not a quiz about the video! It was a self-assessment test to determine if one may be at risk of thyroid disorders.  Once the quiz was finished, participants showed the quiz results to the doctors.  The doctors then addressed their health concerns. Some were given requests for laboratory procedures and some were given prescriptions.

Those who have finished all the required activities got to have a refreshing cup of milk tea! Then off they went to the pampering booths for some me-time. 🙂 Of course, I didn’t pass up the chance to get my own me-time!

As the participants were dolled up, they were also given bits of trivia about thyroid disorders. While I was having my eyebrows threaded, I was told that thinning eyebrows is a symptom of hypothyroidism (mine are naturally thin though, so I’m glad I don’t have hypothyroidism. Otherwise I’d be sans brows!).  At the hair and makeup booth, I was told that a puffy face, dry skin, and hair loss are symptoms of thyroid disorders too. Those getting a manicure were informed that brittle nails may be a sign of hyperthyroidism and nails that grow too fast, of hypothyroidism.

There were also booths that even men and children could enjoy. The massage chair is always a welcome respite to a long day of mailing. The kinect is best done as a group. I have two left feet but I nevertheless enjoyed “dancing”. No child was whining of boredom because they had a great time meeting new friends and coloring pages at the Kids Art Corner.  The kids who had the best art work were also given prizes! Awesome!

While everyone enjoyed the activities, the most important part of the event was the forum.  Dr. Chrysanthus Herrera, Medical Science and Government Affairs Manager; Dr. Teofilo San Luis, National Coordinator of the Philippines, Iodine Global Network; and Dr. Wesley Llauderes, President of the Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine gave interesting lectures and valuable health advice to all participants.

It’s Not You, It’s Your Thyroid

In his lecture on “The Thyroid Masquerade”, Dr. Teofilo San Luis explained how thyroid disorders can often be attributed to other diseases.  The thyroid affects almost all organs of the body so most sufferers of thyroid disorders consult different doctors.  For instance, patients who experience palpitations or hypertension first see a cardiologist.  When test results come out negative and the heart  seems healthy, it is the only time they consider other factors.  These symptoms may also be signs of thyroid disorders.  Other such common symptoms are anxiety, sleeplessness, diarrhea, constipation,  hair loss, cold hands, menstrual irregularities, tremors, and even forgetfulness – all can easily be attributed to other diseases or even to just daily stress. Despite the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction being so varied and sometimes misleading, the condition can easily be diagnosed by blood tests and a physical examination.

Aside from sharing symptoms with just about every other ailment, what makes it difficult to diagnose thyroid disorders are the myths surrounding it.  Dr. Wesley Llauderes  dispelled these myths and further explained how to prevent and to treat thyroid problems.  For one, iodine is indeed essential to our body but it will not heal your goiter. Also, although those with hypothyroidism may benefit from iodine-rich food, these same food must be taken in moderation by those with hyperthyroidism. Here are some more myths dispelled by Dr. Llauderes:

  • Cold drinks will not cause thyroid disorders. Neither does shouting (BUT…stress affects the thyroid gland too just as it affects our overall body health)
  • Iodine-rich food such as seafood is not always good.  Those with hypothyroidism need more iodine and may eat more seafood.  Those with hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, should avoid seafood and salty food.
  • There are certain food like cabbages and carrots that may cause goiter to enlarge but this can only happen if you eat them in excessive amounts everyday. So unless you eat cabbages all day, every day, every week, there’s nothing to worry about.
  • Not all goiter are cancerous. Not all thyroid nodules are cancerous.  Having said these, the doctor also stressed the importance of having a biopsy.  Don’t be afraid of it!

Whew!  There’s really so much more to know about thyroid and its disorders.  There’s also still a lot more people who do not know some of these basic facts.  I hope that after reading this rather lengthy blog post, we would all feel our obligation to raise awareness about thyroid.  Let’s all pledge to do this!

 

For more information about thyroid and the International Thyroid Awareness Week, please visit  www.thyroid.phwww.thyroidaware.com or follow “Unmasking Your Thyroid” on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thyroidph).