Your Power Center
A thumb-size gland rules your waistline, energy level, and mood. And for millions of women, this regulator is on the fritz.

Lodged between the voice box and the collarbone, and wrapped around the windpipe, the thyroid helps control tour body’s energy supply. The butterfly-shaped glands pumps out thyroid hormone, a powerful chemical that regulates metabolism and body temperature, says endocrinologist Jeffrey Powell, M.D., of Northern Westschester Hospital in New York. It also works with just about every system in your body to keep your brain sharp, your bowels moving, your periods regular and your skins, nail and hair healthy. The thyroid is like a car’s gas and brake pedals rolled into one: It can speed up or slow down the rate at which your body burns through its fuel supply.

Of course, when part of a car malfunctions, the whole system can stall. There are no comprehensive statistics in the regarding the number of people affected with thyroid disorders. But the majority of sufferers are female. It’s estimated that women are as much as 12 times more likely to develop a problem than men are, possibly because they are also more prone to developing autoimmune disease ( such as lupus are rheumatoid arthritis ), which can mess with the thyroid, says Armand Krikorian, M.D., associate director of endocrinologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Thyroid disorders – which are often genetic and typically involve the production of too little hormone (hypothyroidism) or too much production (hyperthyroidism) – can also temporarily or permanently spring up after pregnancy.

Hypo and hyperthyroidism can have opposing suites of symptoms. In many cases, though hypothyroidism signs are subtler and increase in intensity over time. Unexpected or sudden weight gain may occur, but since that can be due to a variety of factors, it’s not enough to indicate hypothyroidism. Some experts also look for the following symptoms: dry skin, hair loss, forgetfulness, fatigue, frequent chills, constipation, and irregular periods. Another red flag of hypothyroidism is feeling very weak during a workout you use to have no problem getting through. “Thyroid hormones regulate how much energy reaches all cells, including muscles cells.

Much easier to identify is hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease is a common type), in which the thyroid unleashes a flood of excess hormone. This can shock your body into sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, insomnia or bouts of diarrhea. Sufferers can feel constant weird, warm, and shaky, as if they’re hooked up to an IV filled with espresso. Similar to the warning signs of hypothyroidism, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can become worse or more persistent over time - but both conditions are highly treatable with prescription meds.

Source: Women’s Health 

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