Thyroid Awareness

Across the world, approximately 200 million people suffer from thyroid disease. In Canada, there are over 10 million individuals affected by some type of thyroid disorder – that’s equivalent to about 30% of Canada’s population!

Individuals with thyroid disease may require life-long monitoring, so it is important if you suspect you have a thyroid problem or if you have been previously diagnosed with a thyroid problem that you speak with your healthcare provider regularly.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a very small, butterfly-shaped gland in the base of the neck that secretes hormones essential to growth and metabolism. There are many other problems, including heart disease, lupus, problems with reproduction, diabetes, arthritis, and more that can be associated with a poorly functioning thyroid gland.

Types of Thyroid Disease

  • Hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid
  • Hyperthyroidism: overactive thyroid
  • Graves’ eye disease
  • Thyroiditis: inflammation of the thyroid gland; commonly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or postpartum thyroiditis
  • Cancer of the thyroid
  • Thyroid nodules

Symptoms of a Poorly Functioning Thyroid

Symptoms depend on whether your thyroid is working too slow or too fast. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid result because major metabolic processes “slow down”, and include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Dry, coarse skin
  • Brittle hair
  • Tiredness
  • Hoarse or croaky voice
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid result because major metabolic processes go “too fast”, and include:

  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Intolerance to hot weather
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shakiness; fine tremors of the fingers
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hot, moist, velvety skin

Individuals with both overactive and underactive thyroid disorders may also experience an enlargement of the thyroid gland itself, which is called a goitre.

How Will I Know If I Have a Thyroid Problem?

In discussing your particular symptoms, your healthcare provider can determine whether your condition could be caused by a dysfunction of your thyroid, and can order laboratory investigations (blood tests) to determine your thyroid hormone levels. Your provider can also provide you with more information about these tests so that you can better understand your levels and your options if any treatment is required.

Other indicators of a possible thyroid problem include:

  • A family history of a thyroid disorder
  • Use of the prescription medications Lithium or Amiodarone; or
  • A history of radiation treatments to your head or neck

Dr. Sherman and our Nurse Practitioner, Christine, would be happy to discuss with you any concerns that you may have. Please call us if you have any questions at (519) 250-6990.

The preceding information is referenced from the Thyroid Foundation of Canada. If you would like any additional information, please see their website

The Thyroid Foundation of Canada. (2012). Health Guides on Thyroid Disease. Retrieved from: