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Is It My Thyroid?

Thyroid disease and PMS may be mistaken for each other. with hypothyroidism, the most common type of thyroid often feel exhausted, have muscle and joint pains or aches, from depression and other mood changes, gain weight, bloated. Thyroid disease also often affects the menstrual cycle, or delaying menstruation, affecting menstrual flow, increasing the frequency of periods, or making them stop for long periods.

Fact

The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located just below the Adam’s apple, regulates the body’s metabolism. Thyroid hormone levels that are too high make people feel anxious, while thyroid hormone levels that are too low cause people to feel depressed and sluggish.

Thyroid disease is fairly common, and it affects more women than men. Nearly 10 percent of women have thyroid disease, compared with about 5 percent of men. It takes two major forms: hypothyroidism, in which an underactive thyroid produces too little hormone, and hyperthyroidism, in which an overactive thyroid produces too much hormone. Both forms usually develop early in life, but older women (especially those entering menopause) and women who have recently been pregnant face increased risk. For reasons that are not entirely clear, about 10 percent of women will develop a thyroid disorder after pregnancy.

Symptoms and Causes

Thyroid disease can be caused by thyroid removal (such as in the case of cancer or infection), by an autoimmune disease or an autoimmune reaction (in which the body produces antibodies against the thyroid gland); and by certain foods and medications. For example, hyperthyroidism, in which the metabolism is accelerated, is most frequently caused by Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that common in some women, especially older women.

Alert

Goiters, or enlarged thyroids, are a highly visible symptom of Graves’ disease, which causes an overproduction of thyroid hormone. However,most goiters are actually caused by an underactive thyroid gland.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism relate to a slowing of the metabolism and include the following:

  • Weight gain

  • Constipation

  • Muscle cramps

  • Confusion

  • A swollen or puffy face

  • Bloating

  • Coarse and dry hair

  • Thinning eyebrows

  • Depression

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, hand tingling or pain

  • Goiter (swelling in the neck area)

  • Increased menstrual flow

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, which causes an accelerated metabolism, include the following:

  • Nervousness/anxiety

  • Fatigue

  • Heart palpitations

  • Trembling gaze

  • Insomnia

  • Increased bowel movements

  • Weight loss

  • Absent or light menstrual periods

Thyroid Diseases and Menstruation

Thyroid disease can either delay puberty in girls or cause to get their periods very early (usually before age nine). In hypothyroidism may cause frequent, heavy periods that sometimes lead to anemia, while hyperthyroidism can decrease menstrual and may even cause periods to end. In addition, both forms disease have been linked to mood disorders and decreased sexual interest.

Essential

Since some symptoms of hypothyroidism mimic those of pregnancy, such as fatigue and weight gain, pregnant women may have thyroid disease and not even know it. In addition, some pregnant women develop a thyroid inflammation known as postpartum thyroiditis shortly after giving birth.

If you complain of PMS symptoms, your doctor may test your thyroid function. These tests measure levels of the hormones T4, T3, and TSH in your blood to evaluate how well your thyroid gland is working.

Women with thyroid disease may experience menopause before age forty. In addition, symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as hot flashes, absent periods, insomnia and mood swings, may be confused with menopause. Once the thyroid disease is treated, normal menstrual cycles return and a normal timeline for menopause restored.

Treating PMS, Treating Thyroid Disease

Although symptoms of thyroid disease often mimic PMS (depending on the thyroid disease, it can refer to high or low levels of the hormone), the thyroid hormone does not appear to be linked to premenstrual syndrome, except for the small percentage of women with both conditions. Medical doctors do not treat PMS with thyroid hormones. In contrast, many alternative medicine practitioners see a connection between the thyroid and PMS and often treat both thyroid disease and PMS with progesterone (which regulates the thyroid gland).

Thyroid disorders are treated with anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine-131, or, in rare cases, thyroid surgery, depending on the form of the disease. Women who develop postpartum thyroiditis are treated with a drug called levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone. These treatments are usually very successful. However, since diet is one significant cause of thyroid disease, it’s important that avoid eating large quantities of goiter-producing foods, such as cabbage, broccoli and pears, and it is recommended to eat them raw.

Fact

Some foods decrease thyroid hormone production and increase your chance of developing a goiter. These foods, known as “goitrogenics,” include mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, turnips, rutabaga, kale, cauliflower, radishes, African cassava, peaches, strawberries, millet (a kind of grain), corn, and potatoes. Cooking these foods seems to break down the enzymes that affect the thyroid.

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