Women often think about their hormones at three life stages — puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
But hormones affect you every day, and arguably none more so than thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Thyroid stimulating hormone, also called metabolic hormone, helps regulate tissue growth and development, blood pressure and how many calories your body needs to function.
It also plays a part in reproduction. So when the thyroid is off balance, problems occur fact, women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid disorders than men, according to the National Women’s Health Resource Center.
About thyroid disorders
“The thyroid’s job is to make hormones,” said Jesse Smith, MD, an otolaryngologist on the medical staff at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth. “Sometimes it can make too much and sometimes it can make too little. Then you have a thyroid disorder.” Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland releases too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, weight gain, dry or itchy skin, hair loss, constipation and infertility.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the gland produces too much thyroid hormone. It results in nervousness or irritability; weight loss, fast heart rate, increased perspiration, insomnia, trembling hands and more frequent bowel movements. A third common thyroid disorder is called a nodule.
It’s an overgrowth of tissue on the thyroid gland. “At age 60, half the population can be found to have thyroid nodules,” Dr. Smith said. Fortunately, about 90 percent of nodules are harmless. But some are cancerous, so it’s important to have all nodules checked.
Treating thyroid disorders depends largely on what type you have and what is causing it. Generally, thyroid disorders can be treated with one of three methods: medication, specialized radiation therapy or surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid. “By and large, thyroid disorders can be treated with medication,” Dr. Smith said. “So don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about symptoms you’re experiencing.”
“By and large, thyroid disorders can be treated with medication,” Dr. Smith said. “So don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about symptoms you’re experiencing.”
Need to Have Your Thyroid Checked? Find a physician at Baylor Scott & White.
This blog post originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of BaylorHealth magazine.