Is It Menopause, Hypothyroidism, Or Both?

Women in their forties and fifties may have trouble telling the difference between menopause and hypothyroidism. If you are of "a certain age," some physical ailments may make you believe you are entering menopause. In some instances, the problem is actually hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid is not producing enough hormones to keep your metabolism running correctly. In some rare occasions, you might be suffering from both ailments. To stay healthy, you need to know the difference between the two conditions so that you can seek the appropriate treatment. 

Similar Symptoms

Both conditions can present some of the same symptoms. For instance, both can cause weight gain, depression, irregular periods, insomnia, hair loss, and feeling cold. Even some of the symptoms most often associated with menopause, like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, can be made worse by your thyroid malfunctioning. So if you are experiencing both conditions at the same time, your menopause may be masking your hypothyroidism. As a result, any treatment that you seek for your menopause will not be effective. Since your thyroid is underproducing hormones, even hormone replacement therapy for menopause is unlikely to work. 

Dangers of Hypothyroidism

If you have the condition, your pituitary gland may produce too much thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, in an effort to raise your thyroid hormone level. As a result, you may develop a goiter, or swelling of the neck. Hypothyroidism in some cases can cause extreme depression,  coma, or heart failure. You may also experience high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and forgetfulness. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Often, diagnosing the condition only requires a blood test to see if your TSH levels are too high and your main thyroid hormone is too low. In some moderate cases, determining hypothyroidism may require more testing followed by a trial and error approach to thyroid hormone replacement medication. Some people with a moderate imbalance may still suffer from some serious symptoms. A good doctor will persist until he finds the correct treatment to make you feel healthy. Simply getting your hormone levels back to the normal range may not be enough. 

You may believe you are entering menopause when, in fact, you have hypothyroidism. If you are truly unfortunate, you may suffer from menopause and hypothyroidism at the same time. Sorting out your symptoms will require time and the help of an understanding doctor. If you are suffering from both conditions, your menopause treatment will be ineffective until you treat the hypothyroidism as well. Either condition can make you feel miserable. Both of them together are a devastating combination. Be sure to seek help if you believe you need thyroid treatment.