MANILA, Philippines – In time for the International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW) 2017, leading science and healthcare innovation company Merck, joined forces with the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Thyroid Association (PTA), Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (PSEDM), and the Iodine Global Network (IGN), to raise consciousness against thyroid disorders.
You and your thyroid
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits in at the lower front of the neck. It plays a key role in one’s overall health and well-being by producing thyroid hormones that help keep the body use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs in tip-top condition. 
Thyroid disorders are some of the most common diseases worldwide. In the Philippines, one in every 11 adults suffers from goiter or other thyroid disorders. 
Thyroid problems are more common in women. Figures show that women are four to seven times more likely to have thyroid disorders than men. They are also at risk of hypothyroidism by 10 times. Moreover, women who recently gave birth and those who are in the menopausal stage are more vulnerable. 2
But why are thyroid diseases usually left undetected and misdiagnosed? Blame the symptoms. Tiredness, anxiety, weight fluctuations, difficulty in sleeping – these are some of the telling signs of a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, more often than not, people usually attribute these to merely having poor lifestyle choices. This is why the theme of this year’s ITAW is: “It’s Not You, It’s Your Thyroid”.
It’s Not You, It’s Your Thyroid
Since its primary role is to control the metabolism, disorders may occur when there’s little (hypothyroidism) or overproduction (hyperthyroidism) of thyroid hormones.
Patients with hypothyroidism, or too little thyroid hormone, tend to have slower metabolism: they gain weight despite not eating much, move and speak slowly, feel tired and have depressed thoughts, cannot tolerate cold, and have irregular menstrual periods.  On the other hand, patients with hyperthyroidism, or too much thyroid hormone, will have hyperactive metabolism: they lose weight despite having good appetite, have heart palpitations, irritable thoughts and insomnia, have sweating and heat intolerance, and can have tremors in their hands. 
The diagnosis of thyroid disorders can easily be made by checking the levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood. Treatment brings the level of thyroid hormones back in balance, restoring normal metabolism to the body.
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Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company with headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. Merck is a leading science and technology company that works to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions
 Carlos-Raboca, J et al. The Philippine Thyroid Diseases Study 1 (PhilTiDeS 1): Prevalence of Thyroid Disorders Among Adults in the Philippines. JAFES. 2012.
 American Thyroid Association. Hypothyroidism. Accessed from: http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hypo_brochure.pdf on August 2016.
 American Thyroid Association. Hyperthyroidism. Accessed from http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hyper_brochure.pdf on August 2016.