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What you need to know about hypothyroidism


Thyroid disease is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women, which can also complicate pregnancy, according to the Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science. What is also common is the lack oftesting for this condition.

"I suffered my first miscarriage in 2010, which is when I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism," says Dana Anderson, who grew up in Hyde Park and is now the mother of two girls. "I received treatment for a few months, but after further testing, the doctors determined I no longer required the medication. While in Germany serving in the U.S. military, I conceived my first daughter, who is now four," says Anderson.

She continues, "I suffered two more miscarriages during 2015, which was when I asked to be tested once again. In February 2016, my doctor's told me I should seek an aggressive treatment, since my result was a level three, and four is the normal level warranting treatment. It was after this treatment I was able to conceive my second daughter, who is now 10 months. Anyone experiencing infertility, multiple miscarriages, unexplainable hair loss and depression bouts please go and get tested!"

Don’t ignore the symptoms
Hypothyroidism is due to "an underactive thyroid gland that is unable to produce enough of its hormone in order to keep the body functioning properly," according to The American Thyroid Association. It is an imbalance of hormones which results in patients suffering symptoms of this disease.

The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include, fatigue, weight gain, a "puffy face", cold intolerance, muscle and joint pain, constipation, dry skin, thinning hair, irregular menstrual periods and infertility problems.

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Under tested, undetected
Hypothyroidism may be the most common endocrine condition facing women, but it is underdiagnosed for some reason. Lisa Ruiz of Montgomery continues to search for an answer to her symptoms, even after two years of searching. She says, "I have been in the diagnosis process for nearly two years because the doctor is unwilling to do additional testing to investigate further into the problem."

In Ruiz's case, doctors are searching for other sources for her symptoms. She says, "I have also been diagnosed with a severe case of Lyme disease, or continue to be re-infected on a regular basis, while my doctors focus on finding other suitable reasons for my symptoms, but a diagnosis has not happened yet."

Monique Dinelli, mother of three sons from Pleasant Valley, suffered complications due to a delay in diagnosis. She explains, "I was first diagnosed in 2012, but was only under treatment for one month because further testing has led to the discovery of organ damage most likely due to the years without treatment. Several doctors have continued to tell me I no longer require treatment, yet I still have ongoing symptoms."

Treatment can help
Mother of three from Poughkeepsie, Lizbeth Thomas, cites positive results from active doctors and regular treatment. She says, "I was
diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2014, when my primary doctor performed routine screening for any and all conditions. My thyroid was never previously tested throughout my life. It is still unclear when my
hormone levels began to drop. I have my hormone levels tested annually, but there has been no change to my prescription levels. I do not believe I am suffering from any side effects from the medication."

READ MORE: The prescription for health

Test your children
Grown women are not the only demographic to experience symptoms of hypothyroidism. Mothers also need to be concerned for their children when it comes to this disease. 1 in 1200 children has autoimmune hypothyroidism, and 1 in 4000 babies is born with congenital hypothyroidism.

Congenital hypothyroidism occurs in newborn babies who have an underdeveloped or absent thyroid or the inability to produce enough of the hormones. When treated, children are able to live full and productive lives. If left untreated, many children have mental retardation and growth failure.

Dr. Jill Brodsky, pediatric endocrinologist at Care Mount Medical in Poughkeepsie says, "Parents should know that newborn screening must occur before the baby reaches three weeks to ensure treatment is able to minimize the negative impacts from the symptoms suffered." This is
especially important for those individuals who choose to have their children in a setting other than the hospital, because the newborn screening normally occurs within the first day of life when delivered at the hospital.

Symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism include jaundice, feeding problems, constipation, a thick or large tongue, poor muscle tone, sluggishness, large soft spots on the head and a swollen abdomen.

According to Dr. Brodsky, hypothyroidism can also occur suddenly in school-age children and adolescents. She says, "I want to combat the idea weight gain is a symptom of hypothyroidism, but do want to encourage those parents who see their children grow at a normal rate and then stop growing to seek testing." Screening for TSH (the thyroid stimulating hormone) is a simple blood test, which needs to be conducted periodically to maintain the proper dosage if treatment is necessary.

In most cases, these symptoms can be well managed, but the treatment would need to continue indefinitely. Dr. Brodsky assures, "Treatment of hypothyroidism is 100 percent effective but there are no alternatives to the synthetic hormone for pediatric patients."

READ MORE: Is stress keeping you infertile?

Close to home
This condition is much more common than people are aware of. Environmental Health Perspectives claims, "There was a significant elevation of disorders of the thyroid gland in women, but not in men in the State of New York."

This hit all too close to home, since I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 1999. It is believed these increases are the result of environmental contaminants impacting residents living near polluted sites.

After finding out how troublesome endocrine disorders are in this area, I am surprised at the lack of knowledge surrounding the topic. It is important to understand thyroid disease runs in families, and
hypothyroidism can have a gross impact on both the mother and her fetus, including fetal distress and gestational hypertension.

Further research is needed to improve the diagnosis process and to alleviate the damage occurring to the women suffering from this
condition. It is important to understand there is no cure for hypothyroidism, regardless of age, but well-managed treatments can help correct the problem with ease.


Kristina Lasher has her B.S. in Communications with a focus in culture. She is a married mother of two daughters and two step-daughters.