Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge

Veterans Health Administration

 

Could You Have a Thyroid Condition?

A doctor talks with a patient in an exam room

Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are weight gain, feeling cold and depression.

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Thursday, January 16, 2014

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, and VA Women’s Health Services wants to make you aware of thyroid conditions — how they can affect your health and when to ask your provider about getting a thyroid check.

Have you been feeling tired, gaining weight, or feeling depressed?

Have you been losing weight without trying to, feeling jittery and having trouble sleeping?

The symptoms associated with thyroid disorders are very common. This means they are more likely to be due to other conditions. If you have these symptoms, ask your primary care provider if you need to get your thyroid checked.

According to Dr. Sally Haskell, “Recognizing the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease can be a challenge. Thyroid symptoms can be non-specific and may be similar to symptoms caused by other conditions or by day-to-day stress, fatigue or aging.” For National Thyroid Awareness Month, VA is encouraging women Veterans to learn more about thyroid disease and talk to their provider about their symptoms.

The symptoms associated with thyroid disorders are very common. This means they are more likely to be due to other conditions.

23% of Women Veterans 65 and Older in VA System Had a Thyroid Condition in 2012

Of women Veterans who used VA health care services, 6.6% of women ages 18-44 years, 15.2% of women ages 45-64 years, and 23.3% of women age 65 years and older received a diagnosis of a thyroid condition in 2012.

The thyroid is a gland in your neck that controls your body’s rate of metabolism. Women are up to five times more likely than men to have a thyroid condition.

Thyroid conditions are very common among women. A national U.S. health care quality survey found that about 13 million women ages 18 years and older received treatment for a thyroid disorder in 2008.

Two Kinds of Thyroid Disorders

There are two main kinds of thyroid disorders, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is caused by the thyroid gland producing more thyroid hormones than the body needs. Hyperthyroidism is commonly caused by Graves’ disease, Thyroid Nodules, Thyroiditis, or some medications. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling anxious or jittery
  • Increased sweating
  • Feeling hot
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in your period (usually lighter)

Treatment options include anti-thyroid medicines, radioactive iodine, or surgery.

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by Thyroiditis, having the thyroid removed, radioactive iodine treatment, and some medications. Symptoms appear gradually and include:

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Hair Loss
  • Changes in your period (usually heavier)

Treatment is taking thyroid medication (a pill) daily to provide your body with the right amount of thyroid hormone.

Learn More about Thyroid Disease

Great information is available at womenshealth.gov.

Learn more about the CDC’s thyroid information.