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Thyroid FAQs

What are Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism?

When the thyroid system breaks down, it can result in two disorders: 

Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid-produced hormone levels in the body. Too much thyroid hormone over stimulates your metabolism, resulting in fast heart rate, shaking, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, panic attacks, feeling hot, sweating, increased appetite, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and (for women) long and irregular menstrual cycles. Hyperthyroidism is relatively rare. In general, hyperthyroidism symptoms are dramatic enough to call attention to the condition, which is easily diagnosed.

Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of active thyroid hormone and is more insidious than its overactive counterpart. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weakness, weight gain, aching, constipation, and depression. These symptoms are easy for both patients and doctors to dismiss and blame on overeating, not enough sleep, and life situations or circumstances. 

How do Thyroid problems affect women specifically?

The thyroid helps the body prepare for menstruation and has a key role in managing this cycle. A hormonal problem can cause depression, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), tiredness, irritability, insomnia, menstrual irregularities, painful periods, and headaches. In addition to causing troublesome symptoms that affect a woman's day-to-day quality of life, estrogen dominance can increase the risk for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, infertility, and uterine cancer.

When should I be screened?

Depending on an individual’s medical history, the recommended age for their initial screening can be anywhere from 40 to 50, as well as at pregnancy or after delivery. Risk factors for mild thyroid failure: 

  • being over 50 if you're a woman

  • being over 60 if you're a man

  • having a family history of thyroid problems or autoimmune disease

  • already having an autoimmune disease yourself

  • past treatment with radioactive iodine or radiation to the head or neck

  • thyroid surgery

  • the use of certain medications. 

Additionally, the link between high cholesterol and thyroid disease is so strong, it makes even more sense to get your thyroid checked along with your cholesterol as part of your heart health care and management.

Why is it important to rule out Hypothyroidism?

In addition to causing discomfort, making daily functions harder, and contributing to weight related problems, an elevation of cholesterol is one of the characteristic features of an underactive thyroid gland. The Thyroid Foundation estimates that almost 7 million Americans walk around with no idea they have an underactive thyroid that may be hiking their cholesterol and harming their hearts.

A hidden thyroid problem can thwart all your efforts to lower cholesterol with diet and exercise. And unfortunately, high cholesterol does not present with symptoms, allowing this issue to get worse over time. Regular cholesterol tests are an important part of anyone’s care plan, to help monitor for cardiac issues. It's crucial to test for thyroid failure if cholesterol numbers are high, to rule out thyroid issues as a cause. 

Hormone Therapy for Hypothyroidism

Do you ever feel tired even when you have had a good night's sleep? Are you continuing to put on weight even when you watch your diet and exercise? You may be one of 21 million in the United States who suffers from thyroid disorders. Everything from how quickly your body burns calories to your mood is controlled by your thyroid. As long as your thyroid is producing the right amount of hormones, your body will function normally.  Hypothyroidism, however, occurs when you have an underactive thyroid that is not producing enough hormones to keep your body going. Once diagnosed, hypothyroidism is easily treated by hormone therapy. Every day, you will need to take a pill to replace the hormones your thyroid is not producing.

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