You’ve probably never given it much thought or even realized it was there, but the thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck. This little gland is a powerful force in your body as it produces vital hormones, especially for women. The pituitary gland regulates it, and it is susceptible to your iodine intake. The hormones secreted by the thyroid affect nearly every part of the body, and when these levels vary from the norm, your health may suffer. More women are likely to suffer from thyroid issues, with nearly one in eight women developing a problem in her lifetime, especially after pregnancy or menopause.
Thyroid disorders have different symptoms that gradually grow in intensity. It may take several months of side effects before you begin to realize that there may be an issue. Watch out for:
- Increased anxiety or nervousness
- Lowered ability to concentrate
- Irregular periods or reduced flow
- Increased heart rate
- Sensitivity to heat or consistently cold
- Bowel movement changes
- Dry, itchy, or thin skin
- Brittle hair or hair loss
- Change in appetite
- Weight gain or loss
These symptoms could be a sign of a thyroid issue. Several disorders can stem from problems with this gland, and most will have these symptoms in common. These are some of the most common ailments to get tested for if you are experiencing these issues:
- Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is not producing enough hormones. It is also known as Hashimoto’s disease. Many of the previous symptoms apply to this condition, but you may notice an enlarged thyroid gland called a goiter, eye and face swelling, and a deeper voice.
- Hyperthyroidism is a condition when the gland becomes inflamed and begins producing too many hormones. Tumors may cause this condition, and it can develop into Graves’ disease or thyroiditis.
- Thyroid cancer can develop from nodules or tumors in the throat. In most cases, a lump in the throat is usually benign, but occasionally it is cancerous. Often, there is a history of hypothyroidism first.
Thyroid symptoms are very deceptive, and it often takes months of consistent struggle before patients seek treatment. Carefully monitoring your thyroid health throughout your life is an excellent way to stay healthy, especially for women. Pregnancy and menopause affect your thyroid health and have many of the same symptoms. If you are ready to conceive or entering your menopause years, monitoring this gland is essential.