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Know your history, understand your future

Thyroid disorders are common.1 What many people don’t know is that their genetics may strongly influence their risk of developing one.

Maintaining a healthy thyroid is important throughout our lives. The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect growth, development and regulates the body’s metabolism.1 

Yet an estimated 200 million people worldwide are affected by thyroid disorders.1  Symptoms can be wide-ranging and can have a debilitating affect on our quality of life.2

One of the main risk factors of developing a thyroid disorder lies in our genes.  In fact, researchers have discovered the majority of thyroid disorders are influenced by our genetics – which means they can be inherited or passed down between family members.3

That’s why this International Thyroid Awareness Week, we’re doing do all we can to raise awareness of the genetic links for thyroid disorders and support better thyroid health.

What should I do if I’m aware of family history or feeling unwell?

Some of the ways in which thyroid disorders can impact our health and wellbeing include fatigue, muscle weakness, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, problems with vision and menstrual cycle issues.2  If you’re aware of a family history with thyroid disorders, or you’re feeling unwell and you’re not sure why, use a symptom checker.

How is a thyroid disorder diagnosed?

The most definitive way to diagnose a possible thyroid disorder is through a thyroid function test. This is done through a simple blood test, which is then analysed for certain levels of thyroid hormones.4

Where there is family history of thyroid disorders or thyroid cancer, a doctor may recommend genetic testing. Your doctor or a genetic counsellor will discuss the results with you, risks of developing a thyroid disorder and a potential monitoring plan.

The sooner a thyroid disorder is diagnosed the better to ensure those affected can receive the right care, including treatment where appropriate.

What should I do if I’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder?

Your GP will talk throught the various options to help manage a potential thyroid disorder. It’s also worth discussing your diagnosis to help family members better understand their risk, increase their awareness of possible signs and symptoms and encourage them to get tested where they have concerns.

Know Your History, Understand Your Future

  1. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. The untapped potential of the thyroid axis.  November 2013. Available at: Accessed February 2023
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Thyroid Diseases. Available at: Accessed February 2023
  3. Very Well Health. Is Hypothyroidism Genetic? Available at: Accessed March 2023
  4. British Thyroid Association. Thyroid Function Tests. Available at: Accessed February 2023


Patient focused web article on genetics and thyroid disorders