Thyroid Awareness Month

In honor of January being Thyroid Awareness Month, I have decided to share information about hypothyroidism, a condition which involves decreased production of the thyroid gland hormones. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped structure in the front of the neck that is responsible for the production of two important hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones control the body’s metabolism.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Signs and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include fatigue, difficulty losing weight, increased sensitivity to cold, puffy face, muscle weakness, elevated cholesterol, constipation, dry skin, depression, and impaired memory. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in other medical issues, including obesity, infertility, heart disease, and joint pain.

Hypothyroidism affects approximately 40 million Americans, and 90% of those individuals are women. This includes teenage women and younger females. It is estimated that one in eight women can expect to develop hypothyroidism at some point in her life.

Like endometriosis, many women are misdiagnosed for years until an accurate diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made. Too many women have discussed the symptoms they experience with their doctors, and they were dismissed with an anti-depressant, yoga, or told to exercise to reduce stress. The condition is manageable with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, but treatment is not possible without an accurate diagnosis. You know your body best. If something feels off and medical advice is not sitting well with you, get a second opinion. You have every right to request a full thyroid workup and for your symptoms to be taken seriously.