An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, but up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
Thyroid problems are becoming more common than ever before, but at the same time, they remain challenging to identify since the symptoms can mimic many other diseases.
Research suggests women are 5-8X more likely than men to have thyroid problems, and 1 in 8 will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. Say whhhaaattt?!
During certain times of life – like after having a baby – thyroid symptoms can get lost in the fray of ‘normal’ postpartum fatigue, carrying ‘extra baby weight’, or postpartum hair loss. If this might be you, I’m right there with you, sister!
Thyroid disease isn’t just low thyroid hormone, it can also be high, or hyper. Hyperthyroidism is a condition causing the gland to produce too much thyroid hormone, and like hypothyroidism, it doesn’t begin or end with the thyroid gland. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation.
Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism; it is an autoimmune disorder that is genetic and estimated to affect one percent of the population.
To confuse the matter a smidge more, you can not only “swing” between being hypothyroid and hyperthyroid (so you can actually be losing weight even though all you can manage to do is sit around any chance you get), but you can have both autoimmune Hashimoto’s and Graves’ at the same time…I know, mind.blown.
So why might one of these conditions occur, you ask?
Stress, genetics, diet, lifestyle and environmental toxins can put individuals at risk for developing a thyroid condition. For example, chronically high cortisol (stress hormone) can tax the thyroid gland, which then effects production of one or multiple thyroid hormones. The downstream effect can be altered estrogen or testosterone, which can lead to a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms. And the cascade can work in reverse; our bodies are very robust, yet delicate, ecosystems that are spun together in organized chaos, and it’s constantly trying to keep everything balanced.
Thyroid hormone is key to regulating the metabolism of every cell in the body, and believe it or not, even constipation, irregular heart rate or irregular menstrual periods can be from an underlying thyroid problem.
To find out if you might have an under-active, click here to take the Thyroid Health Quiz.