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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 hormone.
Thyroid 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.
"The thyroid's job is to make hormones," says 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 release 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 says. 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 says. "So don't hesitate to ask your doctor about symptoms you're experiencing."
If you have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, talk to your doctor. Want to learn more about ear, nose and throat services offered at Baylor Fort Worth or find a physician? Visit BaylorHealth.com/AllSaints or call 1.800.4BAYLOR today.
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