There’s been a lot of awareness-raising about women’s health issues recently. There’s one, though, that is hard to recognize, but it’s very common. It steals time, enjoyment, energy, and health from those who suffer from it – yet its causes are not well known. Women are five to eight times more likely to have this disease than men. What is this silent women’s health issue?
Here are some more statistics about thyroid disease from the American Thyroid Association:
About 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease.
Of those suffering from thyroid disease, almost 60 percent don’t even know they have a thyroid disease.
Thyroid disease is often a lifelong affliction, which is manageable with medication, tests, and doctor’s care.
One women in eight will most likely develop thyroid disease.
Untreated thyroid disease in an expectant mother can cause severe developmental problems in the baby, miscarriages, and preterm deliveries.
So, why is this a silent women’s health issue?
Because the symptoms of this disease mimic other, more publicized health issues.
I know, because I just spent the last 6 months feeling like I didn’t want to do life. Now, I wasn’t suicidal, I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to do things that I used to enjoy. I canceled two of my children’s birthday parties – but I love throwing birthday parties. I barely got my Christmas tree up, and struggled wrapping the few Christmas presents we had. And the daily maintenance of my house was impossible. I couldn’t get my dishes caught up, the laundry was a never ending mountain.
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after the birth of my fourth child. I have been under a doctor’s care for this disease for four years. However, this last summer things got really off-balance with my thyroid – and I didn’t even notice.
But, before I go on with my story, I need to tell you a little more about the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck. It is responsible for producing a hormone that influences EVERY CELL in the body, and regulates the metabolism, mood, and energy levels a person experiences. It’s a very important little organ.
Now, here’s why I didn’t notice anything that was happening last summer.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism include extreme fatigue, weight gain, and loss of energy – a loss of desire to do much but make it through the day. All of which sounds a lot like depression.
During the summer, I started struggling with wanting to extra things. We were having some stressful times, and I thought I was just feeling tired and stressed out. As things progressed, I thought I was dealing with some depression. I was working with my sweet husband to deal with the depression, but I never thought it was my hypothyroidism.
I never thought my thyroid was in trouble. I took my thyroid medication every morning, on time. It wasn’t until I gained 10 lbs. in 2 weeks, my hands and feet started swelling up painfully every day, I fell asleep every time I sat down, and my neck started to be really swollen that I suspected that my thyroid levels were off.
Now, that I’ve gotten my levels tested, and have a more appropriate dosage for what my thyroid needs, life is back to normal. I want to do fun things with my children. I can get my housework done. I’m able to deal with the stressful moments in the day without a complete loss of stability.
I’m sharing all this because you need to know if your thyroid is struggling or not. It’s a little organ that affects every aspect of life. If you are feeling tired, gaining weight, or feeling a loss of excitement with life – don’t just assume it’s something. Talk to your doctor; ask for a thyroid test. It really can make all the difference.