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Thyroid Awareness Month 2024

Published on 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. This article highlights the differences between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and the next steps to thyroid awareness. 


Hypothyroidism, Just the Facts

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs and without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down.

  • Nearly 5 out of 100 Americans aged 12 years and older have hypothyroidism. Most cases are mild, or a patient has few obvious symptoms.
  • Women are more likely to develop hypothyroidism,
  • This disease is more common in people over 60 years old,
  • Reasons making you more likely to develop hypothyroidism include:
    • A prior thyroid problem, such as a goiter,
    • Prior surgery or radioactive iodine to correct a thyroid problem,
    • Prior radiation treatment to thyroid, neck, or chest,
    • A family history of thyroid disease,
    • Being pregnant in the past 6 months,
    • Having Turner syndrome (a genetic disorder that affects women), and
    • Is more likely to occur if you have other health problems (i.e., celiac disease, pernicious anemia, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus).
  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, trouble tolerating cold, joint or muscle pain, dry skin, thinning hair, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, fertility problems, slower heart rate and depression. Note, many of these symptoms are common and do not necessarily mean you have a thyroid problem.
  • Hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol. If your cholesterol is elevated, you should get tested for hypothyroidism.


    Hyperthyroidism, Just the Facts

    Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than what your body needs and with too much thyroid hormone, many of your body’s functions speed up.

  • About 1 out of 5 Americans aged 12 years and older have hyperthyroidism.
  • Like hypothyroidism, women are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism and this disease is more common in people over 60 years old,
  • Reasons making your more likely to develop hyperthyroidism include:
    • A family history of thyroid disease,
    • Other health problems (i.e., vitamin B deficiency, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or primary adrenal insufficiency),
    • Eating large amounts of foods containing Iodine,
    • Taking medications containing Iodine,
    • Use of nicotine products, and
    • Being pregnant in the last 6 months.
  • Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism can include weight loss despite increased appetite, rapid and irregular heartbeat, nervousness, irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue, shaky hands, muscle weakness, sweating or trouble tolerating heat, frequent bowel movements, or a goiter. Note, in older adults this disease can be mistaken for depression or dementia.
  • If left untreated, this disease can cause serious health problems (i.e., irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, Graves’ ophthalmopathy, thinning bones, osteoporosis, muscle pain and menstrual cycle and fertility issues).


What Can You Do?

Even though the symptoms you may experience with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are common and may not be related to a thyroid problem, it is important to mention them during an appointment with your doctor.


Your doctor can check for thyroid disease during a standard physical exam by palpation of the thyroid gland and there are two standard blood tests that your doctor may recommend. One measures your thyroid hormone level (T4) and another measures thyrotropin (TSH) which is a hormone secreted from the pituitary gland that controls how much thyroid hormone your thyroid makes.


Treatment for thyroid disease will be specific to the type and severity of the thyroid disorder and the age and overall health of the patient.



National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) articles at


Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.