23 – 29 May 2016: International Thyroid Awareness Week

25 May 2016: World Thyroid Day

On this page

Thyroid disease in children

Quick links


Thyroid conditions

Blood tests and reference ranges

Tests other than blood tests

Thyroid drugs available in New Zealand

Thyroid treatments other than drugs



Media releases

TSNZ tweets


Share this page

Tweet this page

The week of 23 – 29 May 2016 is International Thyroid Awareness Week

This week, Thyroid Support New Zealand, Thyroid Federation International and several other national thyroid organisations around the world ask your attention for thyroid health and disease.

The thyroid gland and thyroid disease

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland in the lower front of the neck. It has important functions in the body: the hormones produced by the thyroid gland are essential for cellular differentiation, growth and metabolism.

Unfortunately, as with most body organs, a number of things can go wrong with the thyroid gland. There are several types of thyroid disease, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), goitre (enlarged thyroid), thyroid nodules (lumps) and thyroid cancer. These conditions can cause a wide variety of - sometimes debilitating - symptoms.

Thyroid disease is reasonably common, in New Zealand and in the world. Worldwide, the number of people suffering from some form of thyroid condition is estimated at 200 million. According to the 2006/2007 New Zealand Health Survey (Ministry of Health), 113,200 people in New Zealand over the age of 15 years had a thyroid condition (as diagnosed by a doctor) in that period. The survey results do not provide numbers by type of thyroid condition.

Thyroid disease affects women and men, adults and children, of all ethnicities and all social backgrounds. Thyroid disease does not discriminate. All people can get it, although some are more likely to get it than others. For example, thyroid conditions are more common in women than in men. (For statistical data see the 'Other health conditions' sheet in this appendix to the New Zealand Health Survey: Health Conditions: Adult data (xls, 324 KB).)

Early diagnosis and adequate treatment are essential

Adequate treatment of thyroid conditions can significantly improve your quality of life. If it is not, or not properly, treated, a thyroid condition may lead to ‑  among other things – increased cholesterol levels, heart disease, infertility and osteoporosis. Links to more information about the different types of thyroid disease, including their symptoms and treatment, can be found on our web page about thyroid conditions.

Early detection of thyroid cancer can save your life (as can the proper, life-long follow-up if you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer). A helpful tool for early detection, developed by the American College of Endocrinology, is the neck-check.

There are some signs to look out for:

  • lumps in your neck (which are benign in most cases)
  • lymph node swellings
  • fullness in the neck
  • voice changes, or
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing.

We recommend that you do the neck-check regularly. If you have any of the above signs, please visit your doctor. If you suffer from one or more other symptoms of thyroid disease, again, please go to your doctor.

How can you help raise thyroid awareness?

You can help raise thyroid awareness by printing the information on this page as well as the information on the neck-check, and put them on notice boards in community centres, medical centres, pharmacies and other places where people might notice them.

You can also share this page on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

Special awareness topic: thyroid disease in children

As every year, international thyroid awareness week 2016 highlights a special topic.

This year, the topic is “Spotting the symptoms of thyroid disorders in children”. Visit Thyroid Federation International's International Thyroid Awareness Week website for more information.

Information about thyroid disease in children

Click on the links below for more information about:

More information for

World Thyroid Day

25 May 2016 is the 9th World Thyroid Day. The annual World Thyroid Day was established in 2008 and is recognised by the American Thyroid Association, the European Thyroid Association, the Asia & Oceania Thyroid Association, and the Latin American Thyroid Society.

The five major goals of World Thyroid Day are to:

  • increase awareness of thyroid health
  • promote understanding of advances made in treating thyroid diseases
  • emphasize the prevalence of thyroid diseases
  • focus on the urgent need for education and prevention programs, and
  • expand awareness of new treatment modalities.


back to top

© 2018 Thyroid Support NZ

Disclaimer | Copyright