by Dr. Thomas K. Lo
Your thyroid produces hormones that control many activities in your body, some of which are metabolism, body temperature, and how fast your heart beats. The two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4. Diseases of the thyroid can cause it to make either too much or too little amounts of these hormones. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disease. One in eight women will develop thyroid problems during her lifetime.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid gland is located in front of the trachea in your neck. The gland is divided into two lobes (right and left) and is connected in the middle by a thin bridge of thyroid tissue, known as the isthmus. Because of the two connected lobes, the thyroid is described as being shaped like a butterfly or a bow tie.
How do thyroid problems affect women?
In women, thyroid diseases can cause many issues, including problems with your menstrual cycle making your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. Your periods may also stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea. Thyroid disease also affects ovulation. This can make it harder for you to get pregnant. Sometimes thyroid problems can even be mistaken for menopause.
What kinds of thyroid disease affect women?
The thyroid disorders hypothyroidism; hyperthyroidism; thyroiditis, especially postpartum thyroiditis; goiter; thyroid nodules; and thyroid cancer tend to affect more women than men.
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism means your thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones, also called underactive thyroid. This slows down many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s disease. In people with Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. This attack damages the thyroid so that it does not make enough hormones. Hypothyroidism is also caused by hyperthyroidism treatment (radioiodine), radiation treatment of certain cancers, and thyroid removal.
What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, which may include feeling cold when other people do not, constipation, muscle weakness, weight gain, even though you are not eating more food. Joint or muscle pain, feeling sad or depressed, and feeling very tired can also be symptoms. In addition, other symptoms can include pale, dry skin; dry, thinning hair; slow heart rate; less sweating than usual; puffy face; hoarse voice; and more than usual menstrual bleeding.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, causes your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. This speeds up many of your body’s functions, like your metabolism and heart rate. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a problem with the immune system.
What are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as weight loss, even without changing your eating habits; rapid or irregular heartbeat or pounding of your heart; feeling nervous or anxious, and feeling irritable. You may have trouble sleeping; experience trembling in your hands and fingers or increased sweating; feel hot when other people do not; have muscle weakness, diarrhea, or more bowel movements than normal; have fewer and lighter menstrual periods; experience changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation. Hyperthyroidism can raise your risk for osteoporosis. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause.
What is thyroiditis?
Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid. It happens when the body’s immune system makes antibodies that attack the thyroid. Causes of thyroiditis include autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis; genetics; viral or bacterial infection; and certain types of medicines. The two common types of thyroiditis are Hashimoto’s disease and postpartum thyroiditis.
What is postpartum thyroiditis?
Postpartum thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid after giving birth, affects 10 percent of women. It often goes undiagnosed because symptoms are much like the “baby blues” that may follow delivery. Women with postpartum thyroiditis may feel very tired and moody.
Who is at risk for postpartum thyroiditis?
If you have an autoimmune disease, like type 1 diabetes, your risk is higher. Your risk is also higher if you have a personal history or a family history of thyroid disorders, had postpartum thyroiditis after a previous pregnancy, or have chronic viral hepatitis.
What is a goiter?
A goiter is an unusually enlarged thyroid gland. It may happen only for a short time and may go away on its own without treatment. Goiter is more common in women before menopause. Some common causes of goiter include Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer. Usually, the only symptom of a goiter is a swelling in your neck. It may be large enough that you can see it or feel the lump with your hand. A very large goiter can also cause a tight feeling in your throat, coughing, or problems swallowing or breathing.
What are thyroid nodules?
A thyroid nodule is a swelling in one section of the thyroid gland. The nodule may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. You may have just one thyroid nodule or many. Thyroid nodules are common and affect four times as many women as men. Researchers do not know why nodules form in otherwise normal thyroids.
What are the signs and symptoms of thyroid nodules?
Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and are not cancerous. Some thyroid nodules make too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism. Sometimes, nodules grow so big that they cause problems with swallowing or breathing. You can sometimes see or feel a thyroid nodule yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and raise your chin slightly. Look for a bump on either side of your windpipe below your Adam’s apple. If the bump moves up and down when you swallow, it may be a thyroid nodule.
What is thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland. Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. Some people get a hoarse voice. Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.
Who is at risk for thyroid cancer?
About three times as many women get thyroid cancer as men. The number of women with thyroid cancer is also going up. By 2020, the number of women with thyroid cancer is expected to double, from 34,000 women to more than 70,000 women. Thyroid cancer is more common in women who are between the ages of 25 and 65, had radiation therapy to the head or neck to treat cancer, have a history of goiter, or have had a family history of thyroid cancer.
If you are struggling with some of the thyroid issues listed above and would like a free evaluation, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. We also offer free seminars held at the office on rotating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.