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January Is Thyroid Awareness Month

a blog by Julie Monacelli, January 19, 2014

In 2007, I noticed I had gained some weight, and I was sleeping more than usual… like 18 hours a day, and I was still tired. My voice was hoarse even though I didn’t have a sore throat, my hair was falling out at an alarming rate, I was anemic and when AF came, she arrived with such gusto that I could go through a box of tampons AND pads in two days. When the fall weather hit, the colder temperatures made me extremely uncomfortable… in fact, I could never get warm.

My primary doctor then decided to treat my anemia, which was severe at the time. She didn’t touch my thyroid at all. I don’t remember my numbers exactly, but I know I fell into the subclinical hypothyroidism category at that point. Basically, my thyroid labs were only slightly out of range. But my symptoms continued to get worse, much worse. I considered that I had narcolepsy, because I could and would fall asleep anywhere. (Being able to sleep anywhere is a trait admired by most paramedics, but this was ridiculous. My partners couldn’t hold a conversation with me because I would fall asleep!)

When my insurance changed, I went to a new doctor and was immediately placed on thyroid medication. It appears my thyroid tanked some point after my initial bloodwork, and I was no longer subclinical- I was a true hypothyroid patient. Within a couple of weeks on medication I was feeling like a new person. I'm still not at 100% even today, which is many years later. I still have some hypothyroid symptoms, with cold intolerance being the worst.

Thyroid problems are responsible for a number of problems conceiving and maintaining pregnancy. Many women have become pregnant without the help of artificial reproduction after they have stabilized their thyroid levels. Regulating your thyroid is particularly difficult during pregnancy, as the pregnancy hormone causes an increase in need for the thyroid hormones. Once you are pregnant, during the first 10-12 weeks your baby will be completely dependent on you for thyroid hormone. After the first trimester the baby’s thyroid begins to function on its own, but it depends on the mother for iodine intake. This is usually not a problem in the United States, as the American diet generally contains enough iodine without supplementation.

Treating hypothyroidism is easy. Most people take one pill per day. I happen to take two separate medications, one of which is taken twice a day. I normally have my bloodwork checked a couple times a year. During infertility treatment I had it checked at the start of each cycle, and now that I am pregnant I will have it checked routinely to make sure my medication is working optimally.

January is thyroid awareness month. Get checked. Get treated.


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