Raising Thyroid Awareness in the Philippines

Did you know that according to a study by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in 2012, one in 11 Filipino adults has goiter, and around one in 12 Filipino adults suffers from some form of thyroid disorders?

Millions of Filipinos are affected by problems with their thyroid, yet awareness of this disease is very low. The symptoms of thyroid disorders are often mistaken for other diseases, or worse, are ignored by patients with the disease.

What is the thyroid gland?

  The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ found at the lower middle part of the neck. It is sometimes referred to as the “master controller” of metabolism, and is important to health and well-being. The thyroid creates, stores, and releases thyroid hormones into the blood. Thyroid hormones are important to the normal function of our body, and affect everything from the brain to our other organs.

People who are at risk for thyroid disorders: 
check for the following variables
  • Iron deficiency
  • 50 years old and above
  •  Asian or Caucasian descent
  • Down’s or Turner’s Syndrome
  •  Already undergone thyroid surgery
  • Have family history of thyroid problems
  • Previous history of radiation exposure or neck x-ray
  • Diagnosed with autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes

To raise awareness of thyroid disorder, Merck Inc. held a bloggers event at the Holiday Inn Makati last September 21. Dubbed as "Unmasking Your Thyroid", the event was attended by chosen bloggers including people from the health industry. Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus, Jr., who is the President of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, as well as a Professor in the UP College of Medicine and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, gave an informative talk on what the thyroid is, as well as the symptoms of thyroid disease.

Patients with hypothyroidism, or too little thyroid hormone have one or more of these symptoms: 
    *tend to have slower metabolism 
    *they gain weight despite not eating much 
    *move and speak slowly 
    *feel tired most of the time
    *have depressed thoughts 
    *cannot tolerate cold
    *have irregular menstrual periods

Patients with hyperthyroidism, or too much thyroid hormone will manifest one or more of the ff:
    *have hyperactive metabolism
    *they lose weight despite having good appetite 
    *have heart palpitations 
    *irritable thoughts and insomnia 
    *have sweating and heat intolerance
    *have tremors in their hands

More information can be found online in the website www.thyroid.ph. This is an online repository of information where people can learn more about thyroid disorders. The website also contains useful guides which can help people check themselves for symptoms of thyroid disorders, such as goiter, hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism.

There are a lot of people who may have thyroid disorders, but aren’t even aware until it is too late. It is important to have one’s thyroid checked as early as possible, especially if there is family history of the disease, or during pregnancy. Prevention, proper information and early detection will always be better than cure that comes too late.

About MERCK: 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.

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