This week, Dr. Daniel Duick will join Dr. Joe Galati in discussing thyroid disease, a common, but very misunderstood organ in the human body.
In January,  the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) kicked off its twelfth annual Thyroid Awareness Month. This year's theme, "Thyroid Imbalance" Target Your Numbers, highlights the importance of the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and Free T4 tests, simple blood tests that measure the appropriateness of the thyroid gland's hormone production. Once again, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) is working in cooperation with AACE to spread the message of thyroid health.

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland found just below the Adam's apple. It makes thyroid hormones, which are chemicals that affect the function of many of the body's organs including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.

"Symptoms often associated with thyroid hormone imbalance, including weight changes, mood swings, and menstrual disturbances, can be rather subtle," commented AACE President Bill Law, Jr., MD, FACE. "Patients are often unaware that they should ask their doctor to check thyroid blood tests. Thyroid diseases can develop quite slowly and many patients do not realize that they are ill until they begin treatment and start to feel more energetic and healthy."

According to AACE Medical Guidelines for Clinical Practice for Evaluation and Treatment of Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism, the sensitive TSH test has become the single best screening for thyroid dysfunction. To further evaluate the appropriateness of a patient's TSH level, AACE recommends that a Free T4 test be conducted along with a TSH test. "It is very important for patients with thyroid hormone imbalance to know their TSH and Free T4 numbers. The optimal goal TSH level for patients on treatment ranges between 0.3 to 3.0 mIU/L. Patients should talk to their doctors about their Free T4 numbers, since reference ranges can vary somewhat between different laboratories," stated Dr. Law.
More information on thyroid disease can be found at the following links.