Faced with a woman who, at the age of forty or fifty, becomes irritable, increases in weight and does not sleep well, one tends to think about menopause.
Some of these disorders, however, may be related to a malfunction of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the front of the neck. We talk about this with Professor Andrea Lania, Head of Endocrinology and Medical Andrology at Humanitas.
Menopause and thyroid disorders may indeed have similar symptoms, such as exhaustion, depression, hair loss and hot flashes, so it is not always easy to understand what is happening to the patient. Very often thyroid disorders are diagnosed around the time of menopause, at an age between 45 and 55 years: this is why many women think that the problem does not lie in the thyroid gland, but in the menopause.
Women and thyroid gland
Thyroid disorders are common among women. In addition, those with a family history of thyroid problems or autoimmunity are more at risk, and as they age, the risk increases.
Diagnosing a possible thyroid malfunction is very simple, it is sufficient to subject the patient to a blood test that includes the dosage of thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
The thyroid is responsible for the production of hormones that help regulate the metabolism of the body, maintaining proper functioning of the brain, heart, muscles and other organs. It can happen, however, that this gland works too much or not enough, favoring the establishment of two diseases known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid works exaggeratedly, resulting in nervousness, irritability and insomnia. There may also be palpitations, excessive sweating, intolerance of the heat, changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea, thinning of the hair, weight loss and irregular menstrual cycle.
In the presence of hypothyroidism, however, there is a slowdown in body functions and among the symptoms potentially attributable to this situation we remember a slowdown in thinking, depression, cold feeling, constipation, muscle weakness, abnormality in the menstrual cycle, loss of memory or mental blurring.
Control your thyroid gland
Thyroid disorders are more common than asthma and heart disease, but because they are often mild, it is not always easy to identify them.
In addition to specific blood tests in case of the presence of symptoms, it is advisable to perform an ultrasound of the thyroid in order to exclude the presence of a nodular goiter and knot.
Effective treatments are available for many thyroid disorders, from medications to surgery. Correct diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment will help to deal with the disorder and alleviate the symptoms.