Thyroid cancer: Know the symptoms
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Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck. The most common symptom of cancer of the thyroid is fatigue. Why does this symptom occur and how can you cope with it?
Fatigue and severe exhaustion can be key indications of undiagnosed or insufficiently treated thyroid conditions.
Fatigue has been described as one of the more common symptoms of thyroid cancer.
For anyone who has experienced this sensation caused by the disease, they are aware that it isn’t a typical fatigue which many people may experience after a poor night’s sleep.
The fatigue has been described as debilitating, relentless and to the point of sheer exhaustion.
Why fatigue occurs in thyroid cancer
Fatigue is a major symptom of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), occurring as a result of the decrease in thyroid hormone production.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.
One noticeable sign that your thyroid levels aren’t properly regulated may be bone-numbing fatigue.
There are many reasons for experiencing tiredness and fatigue for those people living with an underactive thyroid including the body’s metabolism slowing down.
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In a study published in the National Library of Health, fatigue among short and long-term thyroid cancer survivors was investigated.
The study involved patients found to have thyroid cancer between 1990 and 2008, as registered in the Eindhoven Cancer Registry, and received a cross-sectional survey on fatigue.
Eighty-six percent responded with thyroid cancer survivors being more often classified as fatigued or very fatigued compared to the normative population.
Anxiety and depression were associated with fatigue, as was also the case for thyroid cancer-specific neuromuscular, concentration, and psychological effects.
The study found that short and long-term thyroid cancer survivors report higher levels of fatigue than an age- and sex-matched normative population do with psychological distress being associated with the fatigue symptom.
Other symptoms associated with thyroid cancer include:
- A painless lump or swelling in the front of the neck – although only one in 20 neck lumps are cancer.
- Swollen glands in the neck.
- Unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks.
- A sore throat that does not get better.
- Difficulty swallowing.
Coping with the fatigue symptom
When feeling low in energy levels, it is tempting to reach for sugary snacks but by replacing sweet treats with healthier options, including proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs and fats contained in avocados, nuts and seeds, you can help balance your blood sugar levels.
Avoiding or reducing caffeine can help with your sleep and may make you feel less tired.
Reducing alcohol levels may also improve your sleep quality.
If you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism you are advised to avoid preparations and supplements high in iodine as it can make your condition worse, added the British Thyroid Foundation.
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