So, why should you care? “The thyroid secretes these hormones, and then they go directly into the blood, which then affects the entire the body because [the hormones travel all over your system and work into every single cell,” says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. That's right — the thyroid affects everything in your body, head to toe.
The problem: the thyroid doesn’t always function perfectly, and thyroid issues are becoming more and more common. An estimated 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disorder, and one in eight women will develop one in her lifetime, according to the American Thyroid Association. According to Hatipoglu, thyroid issues are very common during menopause, but they can pop up if even you’re thirty-something (especially if new to the Pill or pregnant, as an increase in estrogen can throw the thyroid out of whack). A family history of issues with the gland can raise a red flag on how it will behave for you. While the thyroid is most known for its role in metabolism — either making it work double time, leading to weight loss; or more commonly, slacking off and causing weight gain — having your favorite jeans feel a little snug isn’t the only sign of a malfunctioning thyroid.
Here's the good news. A simple blood test can detect high or low levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) and lead to setting them straight, by getting a prescription from a doc to either speed them up or slow them down. Here are some symptoms of a thyroid gone wrong, how to test your TSH, and what to do if you have an imbalance.
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