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January – the month for new beginnings – is observed as “Thyroid Awareness Month” in the United States. Sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the campaign calls attention to the various health problems connected to the thyroid. It aims to generate awareness about the health and function of the thyroid gland – a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland releases hormones that help regulate metabolism, body temperature and other core physical functions. It controls the functions of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Dysfunction occurs when the thyroid produces either too much or too little thyroid hormone. Thyroid disorders are of different types which include – hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for other health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility. Treatment for this condition involves a combination of medications and surgery (in severe cases). Early and accurate diagnosis of thyroid disorders is a difficult task as in most cases the symptoms develop slowly (often over several years). Billing and coding thyroid gland related disorders can be challenging. Endocrinologists or other specialists who treat these conditions need to report the diagnosis and other procedures using the correct medical codes. For correct clinical documentation of this disorder, physicians can utilize the medical billing services offered by reputable medical billing companies.

The 2021 campaign highlights the crucial role the thyroid plays in the ability of major organs to function. It aims to highlight the need for people to get tested if they experience unexplained symptoms. Up to 30 million Americans are estimated to have a thyroid condition. Most people with thyroid disease don’t even know they suffer from it. Women are five to eight times more likely to suffer from this condition than men.

The exact cause associated with this disorder is unknown. In most cases, different types of thyroid disorders occur when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), or not enough hormones (hypothyroidism). Depending on how much or how little hormone the gland produces, people may experience symptoms like – weight gain/loss, restlessness or tiredness, dry, coarse skin and hair, intolerance to cold, infrequent, scant menstrual periods, sleep disturbances, enlarged thyroid gland, and hoarse voice among others. Health experts consider this campaign as a unique platform to publicize information about thyroid diseases and educate and encourage people to visit their physicians for a simple blood test to determine if they require any specific treatment.

As the symptoms associated with different thyroid disorders vary and resemble other conditions, performing an accurate diagnosis often remains a challenging task. Initial diagnosis of this condition begins with a physical examination and review of previous medical history. Blood tests may be performed as part of the diagnosis to measure levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Anti-TPO antibodies, T3 and T4 (thyroxine) and Thyroglobulins. In addition, several imaging tests like Thyroid scans, CT scans, Ultrasound, or PET scans may also be performed when thyroid nodules or enlargement are present. In severe cases, fine needle aspiration and biopsy are used to remove a sample of cells or tissue from the thyroid gland for detailed analysis. Treatment modalities for thyroid conditions help restore normal blood levels of thyroid hormone and these include – anti-thyroid medications, thyroid hormone pills, injecting thyroid-stimulating agent, radioactive iodine therapy (that disables the thyroid), and even thyroid surgery to remove part of, or the entire gland (in extreme cases).

Endocrinology medical billing and coding can be a complex task. Endocrinologists or other specialists who treat patients with different types of thyroid disorders need to use the correct medical codes for accurate documentation. By outsourcing physician billing services, healthcare practices can ensure accurate claims submission and correct reimbursement. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing thyroid disorders include-

  • E00 – Congenital iodine-deficiency syndrome
  • E01 – Iodine-deficiency related thyroid disorders and allied conditions
  • E02 – Subclinical iodine-deficiency hypothyroidism
  • E03 – Other hypothyroidism
  • E04 – Other nontoxic goiter
  • E05 – Thyrotoxicosis [hyperthyroidism]
  • E06 – Thyroiditis
  • E07 – Other disorders of thyroid

Healthcare centers, hospitals and other community health systems across the US will host a wide range of events as part of the 2021 monthly observance. These include – performing thyroid neck check on a regular basis, encouraging friends and family to get tested for thyroid, arranging discussions that emphasize the importance of early treatment and showing valuable support by making donations to many research or treatment institutions across the country. Affected patients can share their powerful stories via different social media platforms and help to strengthen understanding, cultivate empathy, and ultimately create change.