World Thyroid Day Aims to Raise Awareness of Disease

Lara C. Pullen, PhD

May 23, 2014

Approximately 750 million people worldwide are affected by thyroid disorders, and the Seventh Annual World Thyroid Day, being held this weekend on May 25, 2014, has 5 major goals, say the organizations who support it.

These include the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the European Thyroid Association, the Asia & Oceania Thyroid Association, and the Latin American Thyroid Society.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism and influence every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, they point out.

Hypothyroidism is characterized by symptoms of fatigue, depression, and forgetfulness, while hyperthyroidism is associated with irritability, nervousness, and muscle weakness.

The aims of World Thyroid Day are to:

  • Increase awareness of thyroid health.

  • Promote understanding of advances made in treating thyroid diseases.

  • Emphasize the prevalence of thyroid diseases.

  • Focus on the urgent need for education and prevention programs.

  • Expand awareness of new treatment modalities.

The thyroid also plays a critical role during pregnancy, the thyroid societies explain. Consequently, the ATA recommends that pregnant women at high risk for thyroid disease should have their thyroid function tested early in their pregnancy.

Another important issue is thyroid cancer, which is rapidly increasing, according to the ATA, which says there were 44,670 new cases of thyroid cancer recorded in 2010 in the United States.

But when thyroid cancer is identified and treated early, "the majority of patients can be completely cured," the ATA stresses.

The organization also notes that it is important to distinguish thyroid cancer from benign thyroid nodules, which are common in the population.

It also provides a link to numerous guidelines on managing different aspects of thyroid disease.

"Thyroid disorders are very common worldwide. The ATA hopes that this campaign raises awareness about thyroid disorders and facilitates diagnosis and treatment of subtle, early thyroid disease," says ATA president Hossein Gharib, MD, professor of medicine from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


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