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Research by charity Thyroid UK revealed that almost one in three (32 percent) seeking help because of the condition end up receiving the wrong treatment. Conducted with healthcare provider Medichecks, the survey found that 89 percent of people who consider themselves to have a thyroid condition have also battled mental health issues.
When combined with sufferers taking an average of 21 years to be properly diagnosed with the condition, it paints a pretty grim picture for those hoping for treatment, according to the charity.
To mark Thyroid Awareness Week, Thyroid UK highlighted the issue amid growing worries that more sufferers could go undiagnosed if the UK is forced into another lockdown this winter.
Lyn Mynott, chief executive at Thyroid UK, said: “In the UK one in 20 is estimated to have a thyroid condition, which is over three million people experiencing debilitating symptoms that we know from our Health Unlocked community has left them in despair, and even suicidal.
“Through this campaign we hope to shine a spotlight on the condition and raise much-needed funds for the charity.
“We provide an essential lifeline – connecting like-minded individuals who have been misdiagnosed, ignored and side-lined, and are ‘winging it’ to find a better quality of life.”
The research found that low mood (78 percent), lack of motivation (72 percent), the inability to think clearly and concentrate (70 percent) and constant worrying (62 percent) topped the list of the most common symptoms that sufferers experienced.
Worryingly, in a third of cases, these symptoms are leading to mental health disorders being treated, while underlying thyroid problems go undetected.
Despite UK health guidelines supporting thyroid screening for people who present specific mental health concerns, only 12 percent of those polled had been offered a thyroid check – usually via a blood test – when they had logged mental health issues.
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Dr Sam Rodgers, chief medical officer at Medichecks, explains: “Thyroid conditions can be difficult to recognise because there are so many symptoms which affect people in different ways – such as extreme fatigue, weight gain, muscle aches, depression, slow movement and thoughts.
“These could easily relate to many other health concerns, even Long Covid.
“The road to securing a thyroid diagnosis isn’t straightforward, but taking a comprehensive blood test is the first step in the journey to understand whether your symptoms are thyroid related, or if there is something else amiss.”
Thyroid disease can affect anyone of any age and those at higher risk include anyone with a family history and, certain sufferers of other medical conditions such as Type One diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Turner Syndrome.
The two main thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism – when the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, the body uses energy too quickly.
And hypothyroidism – when too little thyroid hormone is in the body, causing the person to feel tired, gain weight and potentially even unable to tolerate cold temperatures.
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