Exhausted? Gaining Weight? Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
Your Thyroid Explained
A butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, the thyroid, controls your metabolism -- which means it not only affects how many calories you burn but controls every beat of your heart and every breath you take. In other words, if your thyroid doesn't work properly, neither do you. When your thyroid is underactive, your body produces more TSH, which should stimulate the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism -- the most common thyroid disorder -- include fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure and, in severe cases, slowed speech and movement. The condition is also linked to increased rates of infertility and miscarriage. Experts estimate that about 6 percent of women develop thyroid problems after having a baby.
In 2002, backed by research and new understanding of how hypothyroidism develops, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) broadened the scope for what's considered an underactive thyroid. "One problem was that the old guidelines for a normal thyroid actually included people with mild hypothyroidism," says Dr. McConnell. "But more and more thyroid experts now agree that levels above 3.0 should be taken seriously when a woman also reports that she's having symptoms."
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