By Tracey, Pure Matters
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 17. As a college freshman, I originally blamed the extra weight I'd recently gained on the freshman 15. But my doctor, familiar with my family's history of thyroid problems, took one look at me and demanded a thyroid level test.
What exactly is hypothyroidism? The National Institute of Health defines it as a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. People diagnosed with hypothyroidism are required to take medicine every day for the rest of their lives. Essentially, the pill replaces the hormone our bodies won't produce.
Just how essential is this hormone? After years of resisting taking a daily medicine, I discovered it's very important. Without the medicine, my skin got more and more dry and my hair and nails became thin and brittle. I became extremely lethargic and cold all the time -- and no matter how much I exercised, those extra 10 lbs wouldn't disappear! Finally, I gave in and started taking my medicine regularly.
What a difference! I kicked myself for resisting for so long. I lost weight (not overnight, mind you, but it did come off,) my hair became shinier, my hands weren't flaky, and I had more energy than I'd had in years. I shouldn't have been so stubborn all that time!
Two years ago, my husband and I decided to start a family. As we began our baby-making journey, we were told that conceiving is almost impossible with an out-of-control thyroid. Luckily, mine was under control when we conceived and we now have a beautiful little boy named Kai.
We also learned that it's just as important to maintain healthy thyroid levels during pregnancy. Even slightly elevated or lowered levels can increase a woman's chances for miscarriage. All pregnant women have their thyroid levels checked and tracked since many don't develop hypothyroidism until they actually get pregnant.
Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in women and usually sets in after the age of 50. But it can really affect anyone. If you have any of the symptoms below, particularly if you're pregnant, see your doctor and ask for a TSH or T4 test to determine thyroid function.
- Thin, brittle hair or nails
- Pale or dry skin
- Swelling of arms or legs
- Sensitivity to cold
- Heavier menstrual periods
Weight gain (unintentional)
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