The thyroid is a gland at the base of the neck that releases hormones needed by all cells and organs in the body (1) (2). These hormones influence cell growth and how quickly or slowly the body uses energy (2). Approximately 10% of Canadians have a thyroid condition that affects the functioning of this gland (1).
The main conditions present in most types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism (thyroid does not produce enough hormones) and hyperthyroidism (thyroid produces too many hormones) (3). Hypothyroidism can cause unusual fatigue or depression, constipation and sensitivity to cold (3). Differently, hyperthyroid conditions often cause unusual nervousness or irritability, diarrhea and heat intolerance (3).
It is important for those with a thyroid condition and their caregiver to understand that these conditions are likely to get better with treatment. Some thyroid disorders develop very gradually and symptoms (signs) may be difficult to notice. At first, small changes in emotions or behaviour may be the only visible signs of a thyroid disorder. After treatment has been initiated, it may take some time before symptoms go away.
Those affected by a thyroid disorder require life-long monitoring by a health care professional (3). Treatment plans should be discussed with the family physician or thyroid specialist.