Fluctuating weight, sluggishness or even an inability to sleep can be traced to a small gland with an enormous job—the thyroid.
A woman’s thyroid may be the missing link to a healthier body. The thyroid is the gland that releases the hormones which regulate some of the body’s most important functions: heart rate, skin pliability and metabolism. In fact, many health issues are triggered by the thyroid and whether or not it is functioning properly.
Thyroid disease is eight times more likely to affect women and it is especially problematic in Black communities where it tends to be under-diagnosed. Doctors are sometimes inclined to attribute weight gain/loss to poor diets or a woman’s lack of exercise. However, it may actually be caused by a woman’s thyroid and a simple blood test called TSH can reveal if a woman’s levels are within the normal range.
If the gland is functioning improperly—hypothyroidism—it can make the skin dry, zap you of energy, and make weight loss difficult. Conversely, if it is overactive—hyperthyroidism—it can cause heart palpitations, an inability to sleep and unexplained weight loss.
It is particularly important that you know your levels because most thyroid issues are genetic. Once you get checked, share your results with your children and siblings. Having an accurate medical record of a history of thyroid disease can lead to greater preventative care for family members.
A 2007 British study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed that there is a strong connection between thyroid disease and cardiovascular disease. The key, as with other potential illnesses, is to work closely with your family doctor to find the best and most appropriate ways to address your concerns.
Therefore, ladies, the next time you have your annual physical, have your thyroid level checks. You never know, it may the barrier between you and a healthier version of you.