12/14/2018 by Share Your Story

Episode 14 – Thyroid Awareness Month

Also Subscribe on:  iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | Pocket Casts

Topics: Thyroid Awareness Month


Patients Rising was formed to stand up for patients, to advocate for their rights, to help fight for the access to treatments they need and deserve, and to tell the truth about health care. We want to bring you practical news you can use. After all, healthcare represents roughly 1/5 of the U.S. economy. 

Hosted by co-founder and executive director of Patients Rising and Patients Rising Now, Terry Wilcox.

We have a helpline where you can tell us about your access issues or health navigation questions: 1-800-685-2654 Or email us at: AskAccess@patientsrising.org.



Today we’re going to talk about your thyroid and why it is so important to check it. Considering more than ½ of adults over 40 have thyroid nodules, we all need to be consistently checking and addressing any nodules we may find.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month so at the end of today’s program I am going to demonstrate for you how to #checkyourneck — as it is one of the things I have to do on a regular basis as I have thyroid disease. And for those of you who have this — you understand how much this tiny little gland can wreak havoc on your entire life …


According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 

“The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body’s overall well-being.”

thyroid awareness month

thyroid gland – wikimedia.commons


From the American Thyroid Association

  • More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
  • Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
  • Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
  • One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
  • Most thyroid cancers respond to treatment, although a small percentage can be very aggressive.
  • The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
  • Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
  • Pregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
  • Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention


Most people living with thyroid disease, once diagnosed, are living perfectly normal lives. It’s chronic illness. One thing we know for certain about chronic illnesses is that they can be expensive in both time and money. All things considered, thyroid disease is on the low-end of the cost spectrum. But, as is often the case, any sort of innovation for a disease automatically will cause those expenses to rise.

For example, National surveillance data report a steady rise in case volume of endocrine procedures in the US over the last decade, mainly attributable to new and improved imaging and surgical techniques. It is estimated that the number of endocrine procedures performed in the US in 2020 may be as high as 173,509.20

In 2008, overall thyroid disease treatment costs in the US for females over age 18 totaled $4.3 billion, including $2.2 billion for ambulatory visits, and $1.4 billion for prescription medications. In 2008, among females with any expenses for thyroid disease treatment, the average expenditure per female for the treatment of thyroid disease was $343; the mean expenditure for ambulatory care visits was $409, and the mean expenditure for prescription medications was $116.21

Get more facts and figures here.


Hyperthyroidism (hyper – thyroid – ism) refers to any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone produced in the body. In other words, the thyroid gland is overactive. Another term that you might hear for this problem is thyrotoxicosis (thryo – toxic – osis), which refers to high thyroid hormone levels in the blood stream, irrespective of their source.


When there is too much thyroid hormone your metabolism speeds up.

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • More sweating
  • Hand trembling
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A form of HYPERTHYROIDISM called GRAVE’S DISEASE can also cause the eyes to bulge.



goiter – wikimedia.commons

A GOITER ( GOY – TER) is an enlargement of your THYROID GLAND that is visible on the neck. Goiters may be more obvious when the head is tilted back or when swallowing. Because of that, there is an easy way to check for inflammation.


The LIGHT OF LIFE FOUNDATION started the #CHECKYOURNECK campaign to raise awareness of THYROID CANCER. You can examine yourself for inflammation at home.

here is a video of someone actually doing the #checkyourneck .

Dr. Marita S Teng explains how to #checkyourneck in an article for ENDOCRINEWEB.COM

“Below are easy steps for examining your thyroid:

  • Face a mirror
  • Take a sip of water
  • Tilt your head back, while still being able to see the mirror
  • When you swallow the water, look for any lumps or areas that are not the same on both sides of the thyroid

Thyroid nodules are usually round in shape and move with the gland when you swallow. You may feel the nodule rolling underneath your fingertips or see it move when you swallow. A goiter (swelling) can be found on one side of the thyroid or on both sides.

If you find any lumps or swelling in this area, talk to your doctor. Lumps or nodules on the thyroid gland do not necessarily mean that you have a thyroid hormone disorder or cancer. Thyroid nodules are very common and often do not cause any other issues.”

If you have any doubts as to whether your thyroid is over-producing or under-producing thyroid hormone, talk to your doctor. A blood test can easily show evidence one way or another.


Remember: Be organized about your health. Have a calendar of self-exams and scheduled exams and any other things you must consistently address based on your genetics or your health history.

And as we talked about last week – if you do have to schedule a procedure. Be smart. Be persistent. Do the legwork or have a trusted caregiver do it for you. Your life is worth it.

  • Let us know what your questions are. Do you need advice? Ask us.
  • Please subscribe to Patients Rising University Podcast and leave us a review on iTUNES or wherever you get your podcasts.

Remember, we’re all patients when it comes to navigating health care. Know your options. Know your costs, and Know Your Rights. To do that, You need a compass — let us be yours.  

From the Editor:

Having any chronic condition (cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, etc) requires a lot of organization. Patients Rising University is releasing its first full web-course called “GETTING ORGANIZED” which provides very practical tools and advice for how to organize yourself after a major diagnosis.


Please consider becoming a member and supporting us. We have some great benefits of membership, including exclusive access to LegalZoom Lifeplan. When you give to Patients Rising, every dollar you donate helps us support the voice of patient advocates. Patients need their stories shared to affect the changes our system so desperately needs.



Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Spread the Word:

You'll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.