Menopause versus Thyroid… What is the Difference?
One in eight women suffer from thyroid problems, and the symptoms often mimic menopause symptoms.
The thyroid gland sits in the front of the neck above the collarbone. It is an important gland that produces powerful hormones affecting nearly every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. Unfortunately, it is easy for the thyroid gland to become either underactive (hypothyroid) producing too little hormones, or overactive (hyperactive) producing too much hormone.
Untreated hypothyroidism (underactive) can lead to serious diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, or depression. Symptoms are very similar to those reported during perimenopause: fatigue, mood swings, forgetfulness, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, and cold intolerance.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive) symptoms also mimic symptoms of the menopause transition, including hot flashes, heat intolerance, palpitations (heart beating rapidly for short periods), tachycardia (persistent rapid heartbeat), and insomnia. Signs of hyperthyroidism include bulging eyes, sudden weight loss, and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with oral medication, while hyperthyroid treatment options are varied and include antithyroid medications, radioactive thyroid therapy, or surgery.
Since thyroid symptoms are more common in women than in men, and many symptoms are like those women experience in menopause, it is important to rule out thyroid involvement before embarking on hormone replacement therapy or other menopause-related therapies. Your provider can diagnose a thyroid problem with a simple blood test, so get it checked out if you have symptoms.