In an article in ThyroWorld, Dr. David Cooper says that it's time that a preventive approach be applied to thyroid disease.
According to Dr. Cooper, there are three different ways a disease is "prevented:"
* primary prevention, which is preventing the disease in healthy people. Vaccines, and seat belts fall into this category. For thyroid patients, Dr. Cooper believes that "adequate iodine intake is the major way to prevent thyroid disease in iodine-deficient areas of the world." He also discusses smoking as a primary risk factor.
* secondary prevention, which is preventing mild, latent or sublinical disease from progressing to more severe levels. Early cancer detection falls into this category. For thyroid patients, Dr. Cooper recommends "screening of individuals for mild or 'subclinical' hypothyroidism. If mild hypothyroidism is detected, secondary prevention would also entail treatment with thyroxine to prevent progress to a more advanced degree of thyroid failure."
* tertiary prevention prevents an existing disease from worsening. For thyroid disease, says Dr. Cooper, this involves "monitoring for disease progression with clinical and laboratory assessment, and, theoretically, avoiding iatrogenic disease (inadvertent illness induced by the doctor), such as prescribing too much thyroid hormone."
Says Cooper: "It is my hope that "preventive medicine" in the United States will expand its horizons to include thyroid disease. Until now, prevention of thyroid disease has received too little attention from policymakers and physicians alike."