Women and Thyroid Disease

Why do so many Women have Thyroid Troubles?

Thyroid Diseases and conditions have received a great deal of attention in the last few years. Although medical science does not have all of the answers, there is much that is known and some good theories about what is not known. Before I go any further I want to state to those who are reading this blog that if you suspect that you have a thyroid problem then you should see a doctor that specializes in thyroid cases.

What do we Know about Thyroid Troubles?

We know that the thyroid gland is located around the windpipe in the neck and that it plays a vital role in the individual’s metabolism. And we know that the hormones it produces are important for all organs, the brain, and the muscles and bones.

We know that women are diagnosed with thyroid problems about 7 or 8 times as often as men.

We know that the most important hormones produced by the thyroid gland, called T3 and T4, can be underproduced or overproduced and cause very different symptoms.

We know that thyroid problems can be caused by very simple factors, such as drinking your tap water (see below).

We know that thyroid problems can be caused by the interaction of multiple factors, making a diagnosis and treatment more complex.

What causes Thyroid Diseases and Conditions

If doctors knew exactly what triggers thyroid problems then the treatment plans would be much easier to design and implement. Unfortunately there is still much that is unknown about the causes of thyroid problems. However, we can identify some of the risk factors.

Thyroid Risk Factors

Heredity and Genetics
Radiation Exposure (medical treatments and multiple dental x-rays)
Viral Infections
Environmental Exposure to chemicals / toxins / pesticides
Some bacteria (Yersinia enterocolitica in food)
Excessive consumption of soy products
Lack of iodine
Excessive consumption of supplemental iodine
Gluten sensitivity or allergies
Heavy metal poisoning (mercury / lead / arsenic / cadmium)
Tap Water – the chemical perchlorate is NOT removed by standard water treatment
Fluoride – can accumulate in the body and block use of iodine
Stress – stress can affect the thyroid gland
Hormonal Imbalances during life

Why are Women more Susceptible to Thyroid Disease?

The answer seems to be that women are more prone to suffer from thyroid disease because they live with more changes in hormone balances in their lives than men. Women have numerous hormonal changes that include perimenopause, menopause, pregnancy, and post-partum. These changes in hormone balance, combined with any of the other known risk factors mentioned above, can come together to cause thyroid dysfunction.

It is estimated that 50% of thyroid conditions are undiagnosed. Many times this is because the symptoms can vary from person to person.  And many of the symptoms are non-specific, such as fatigue. Educate yourself and talk with your doctor.  If you have any doubts, then ask for thyroid specific tests.