Our thyroid affects almost every part of our body as it secretes vital hormones that affect our growth, mental function,, development, reproductive activities, stress, even our physical qualities such as healthy hair and nails. Our , which is found in the middle of our neck near the Adam’s apple, is sometimes responsible for the worsening of the symptoms women experience during menopause. Or worse, underlying deeper thyroid problem symptoms might confuse us from menopausal symptoms, thus undiagnosed complications of the thyroid gland will not be correctly treated resulting to its severeness.
This section will tackle about the connection of thyroid to menopause and ways of how we can achieve a healthy and happy thyroid for a better, qualitative life.
Thyroid and Menopause
When menopause arrives, sex hormones such asdrops. The decrease of this hormone brings changes in the body as well as it may slow down the function of our thyroid. So if you are experiencing perimenopause (the early stage of menopause) and your thyroid is already not functioning well, chances are you might experience menopausal symptoms far severe than those who have a healthy thyroid.
Based from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), millions of women who are having menopause-like symptoms maybe suffering from undiagnosed thyroid problems. Because similar symptoms of thyroid malfunction such as weight gain, fatigue, depression, mood swings and sleep disturbances are sometimes confused with menopausal symptoms in women. So as a woman in menopause, you should also with your physician to have your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) checked to make sure there are no undiagnosed problems in your thyroid. You should also have knowledge of signs that malfunctioning thyroid shows. Be always aware of your body and know how you can take care of your thyroid properly.
Causes of Under Active Thyroid (Hypothyroid)
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that results to inflammation of the thyroid. It is the leading cause of thyroid under activity where the body produces abnormal amount of antibodies that attack the thyroid and make it difficult to produce enough hormones. Aside from Hashimoto (autoimmune disorder), viral infections could also lead to “thyroiditis” or inflammation of the thyroid.
Radiation Therapy to the Neck Area
Radiation is often done in cancer patients especially those with lymphoma. The radiation damages the cells of the thyroid that causes it to encounter difficulty in producing hormones, therefore affecting its activity.
Effect of Certain Medications
Certain medicines for treatment of heart problems, cancer and psychiatric disorders could affect the production of thyroid hormones that would result to its sluggishness. Examples of those medications are amiodarone, lithium, interferon-alpha and interleukin-2.
Inadequate Iodine in Diet
The body doesn’t produce iodine on its own. Our thyroid needs iodine in able to produce enough thyroid hormone for the body. Therefore, we need to consume iodine in our diet for our thyroid’s proper function. Rich sources of iodine could be found in saltwater fish, shells, clams, eggs, dairy products and iodized salt.
Problems of the Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland secretes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid of how much and when it should produce hormones. Thus, complications of the pituitary would certainly affect the function of the thyroid.
Though very rare, when the hypothalamus doesn’t secrete enough TRH (thyrotropin-releasing hormone), the regulation of the thyroid secretion will also be affected. If not enough TRH are produced by hypothalamus, insufficient production of thyroid hormones will as well follow.
Signs of an Under Active Thyroid (Hypothyroid)
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism that menopausal women also experience are:
- Menstrual cycle change
- Dry hair or hair loss
- Dry skin
- Unexplained weight gain
- Difficulty in losing weight
Causes of a Hyperactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroid)
It is an autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too much hormones. The body creates antibodies that targets the thyroid gland and make it produce excessive hormones than the body needs. Grave disease runs in genes and usually affects younger women.
Inflammation of the thyroid, medically known as thyroiditis, is caused by a virus or immunity problems that make the gland swell and leak hormones into the bloodstream. There are several kinds of thyroiditis such as sub-acute, post-partum and silent thyroiditis. In sub-acute thyroiditis, there is an abrupt pain and swelling of the gland with an unknown cause. Though the thyroid heals it self, hypothyroid will be experienced for a few months until the gland goes back to normal. Post-partum thyroiditis is swelling of the gland after pregnancy. It usually lasts for one to two months, and then will be followed by hypothyroidism before returning to normal. In silent thyroiditis, the symptoms are similar to post-partum except pregnancy in not involved. There is no pain felt in silent thyroiditis, but the patient usually develops hypothyroidism afterwards.
One or more lumps in the thyroid could make the gland produce more hormones than usual. If only one nodule causes the hyperthyroidism it’s called single toxic nodule, and if multiple nodules causes the thyroid’s over activity, it’s called toxic multinodular goiter.
Excessive Iodine Intake
Too much consumption of foods and products rich in iodine like seaweeds and kelp could lead to hyperthyroidism. Some medications like Cordarone and Pacerone, which are used for the treatment of irregular heartbeats also contains high iodine concentrations.
Signs of a Hyperactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroid)
- Sleeping problems
- Changes of hair such as brittleness and dryness, thinning and hair loss
- Menstrual changes (lighter bleeding and becoming less frequent)
- Thinning of skin
- Muscle weakness
Taking thyroid hormone pill (levothyroxine) could easily treat hypothyroid. After one month of medication, the levels of hormones in the body should be checked to make sure the patient is taking the right amount needed and would not lead to excessive amount that might result to hyperthyroidism.
Taking medication like antithyroid medicines and radioactive iodine could also treat hyperthyroid. Antithyroid medicines cease the metabolism of hormones produced by the glands, while radioactive iodine destroys the thyroid hormone producing cells. Hyperthyroid could also be treated by surgery where a portion of a thyroid gland is removed. Thyroid hormone supplements should be taken immediately after the surgery to prevent hypothyroidism.
Alternative Ways For a Better Thyroid
Is anherb also referred to as Indian ginseng. It is popular in medicine that showed positive results in lowering the levels of and balancing the thyroid hormones. It is referred to as an Indian ginseng because it is known that significantly improves the stamina and relieves stress.
Though not clear, ashwagandha as an adaptogenic herb has proven to help people whose thyroids are not properly functioning. It both benefits those that suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism by balancing the activity of the gland. In one study conducted from 20 mice that had low levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) have been given ashwagandha. The study revealed that ashwagandha helped to increase the levels of T4 in mice, which means, it is an effective component to improve the ability of a sluggish thyroid by stimulating the gland.
Balancing the thyroid hormone is only one of the benefits of ashwagandha. The consumption of this particular herb could also lead to adrenal rejuvenation, benefits the brain, improves mood, prevents and treats cancer, and also improves stamina.
Learn more about Ashwagandha and where to find Ashwagandha supplements that you may like. Read through this helpful article about Ashwagandha from this website.
Go Gluten and Casein Free
Hybridized protein of gluten and casein can result to food allergies and intolerance. These products could also lead to a “leaky gut” that results to inflammation of the thyroid gland. The solution is to follow a grain-free diet or carefully choose the products you take and always make sure they are gluten-free.
Avoid Drinking From Plastics
Bisphenol A or BPA is a component found in plastic bottles that may disrupt yourgland as well as your thyroid. It is recommended that we use glass, stainless steel or BPA-free bottles when drinking to avoid the consumption of this component.
Maintain An Adequate Iodine Consumption
It is wise to check your iodine levels once in a while. If ever you find them low, get iodine from organic iodine sources like kelp or salty foods such as fish and shells.
Once in a while detox is good for the body as it efficiently flushes harmful toxics in our cells and organs. A recommended mixture of Turmeric, Milk Thistle, Chlorella, and Cilantro can detoxify the harmful metals in our body.
Selenium for Thyroid Optimization
Selenium helps the thyroid by giving it a boost to function properly. Make sure you consume enough selenium but still should be in moderation. Good sources of selenium are beef, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, salmon, sunflower seeds and onions.
Pursue a Low Carb Diet
Too much consumption of carbohydrates can dramatically increase estrogen in women that might bring negative effects in the thyroid. Thus, lower your carbs (sugar and grains) intake and get nutrients from healthy fats to balance your hormone such as coconut, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, oil, coconut milk, avocado, chia, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
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Check this video to learn about some thyroid problem symptoms!(1.35 min)
Check this video to learn the different kinds of