When women around 40 or 50 years of age become irritable, gain weight and sleep badly, we tend to think they started to go through menopause.
However, some of these disorders may depend on a malfunctioning of the thyroid, a butterfly-like gland located in the front area of the neck. We asked Professor Andrea Lania, Supervisor of Endocrinology and Medical Andrology at Humanitas.
Menopause and thyroid disorders may, in fact, have similar symptoms such as fatigue, depression, hair loss and hot flushes. This makes it difficult to understand what is happening to the patient right on the spot. Thyroid disorders get very often diagnosed around the period of the onset of menopause (around 45-55 years of age). Thus, many women think their problems come from menopause, not from the thyroid.
Women and the Thyroid Gland
Thyroid disorders are common among women. Moreover, those who have relatives with thyroid disorders or autoimmune diseases are more at risk, and this risk gets higher for elderly women.
It’s easy to diagnose a thyroid disorder. In fact, the patient only needs to get a blood exam done, specifically for thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help regulate the metabolism of the body by maintaining the right mode of operation of the brain, the heart, muscles and other organs. However, this gland may work too much or too little, determining two issues known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
In case of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid works too much and determines edginess, irritability and lack of sleep. Furthermore, patients may experience palpitations, excess sweating, intolerance to the heat, diarrhoea, hair loss, irregular menstrual period.
On the contrary, hypothyroidism slows down the bodily functions of those who suffer from this condition. Its main symptoms are slow thinking, depression, coldness, constipation, muscular weakness, alterations in the menstrual period, memory loss, mind fogging.
Keep your Thyroid Under Control
Thyroid disorders are more common than asthma and heart issues, but their symptoms are so light that it’s not always easy to pinpoint them.
Patients should undergo specific blood exams if they are experiencing some of the symptoms, and also do an echography scan in order to exclude the presence of a goitre.
There are effective treatments for many thyroid disorders, from medications to surgery. The right diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment help cure the disorder and solve most of the symptoms.