I went to see my doctor earlier this year for my annual exam. I got blood tests, as usual. Something was different this time – blood test results indicated that my thyroid levels were low. My doc prescribed thyroid medication, Levothyroxine.
What the heck do I know about my thyroid or thyroid levels? Not much. So I googled it. How in the heck did I ever survive without Google?
So here’s what I knew before I sought Google knowledge:
- Our thyroid is located somewhere in our neck, and can be over- or under-active.
- We can get thyroid cancer. This I knew because one of my close friends had it, and the doctor took out her thyroid surgically.
That’s pretty much it. My knowledge of the thyroid, in a nutshell.
What I found out about the thyroid after my search:
- It’s shaped like a butterfly and is located just below the Adam’s apple, wrapped around our windpipe.*
- For a little thing, it’s pretty important. The thyroid makes a hormone that affects our metabolism and “influences every organ, tissue and cell in the body.” ** Now that’s a powerful gland.
- Millions of people in our country have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism,** many of them women. It often affects those of us who are over the big 5-0
- Hypothyroidism may be a contributor to high cholesterol! **
- Other thyroid conditions include Hashimoto’s Disease and Graves Disease.
Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism:
(2) Weight gain
(3) Intolerance to cold (And I thought I just had an intolerance to Michigan’s long winters!)
(4) Muscle and joiht pain
(6) Dry, thinning hair
(7) Slowed heart rate
(8) Difficulty swallowing
After reading that an underactive thyroid affects more women than men, I wondered about the reasons behind this, other than the fact that women seem to suffer with more burdens in life than men do. **Sigh.** But then again, we are the stronger sex, so we can take on more burdens.
Unfortunately, several Google searches didn’t turn up much of an answer to my question. In fact, in an article at the Women to Women website, OB/GYN NP Marcelle Pick pointed out that no one really knows why women have a tendency to suffer from hypothyroidism. She does say that there could be a connection between our thyroid hormones and our reproductive hormones.
I do know that my thyroid function is back on track, now that I’m taking medication. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, you just may want to get your doc to check out your thyroid levels.
**Rodale Press. Prevention’s Ultimate Guide to Women’s Health and Wellness. 2002.
***National Institute of Diabetes and Digestiveand Kidney Diseases. Hypothyroidism.
For further reading:
Hypothyroidism in Women