Thyroid disease common in women

When a young woman in Lake Charles had problems getting pregnant, the results from a blood test were not what she expected. Find out the effects of thyroid disease and how it can be managed over time.

25-year-old Diana Vallette never thought that what was going on in here neck would affect what could develop in her stomach - while struggling to get pregnant a second time.

"We were a little worried when the second time it wasn't happening," she said, "my cycles were a little off and I got worried."

There were only a couple of symptoms that turned into red flags for Vallette.

"My eyebrows were thinning and I was tired," she said, "I assumed it was just normal stuff and I was just tired from chasing after a two-year-old."

Blood work showed that Vallette has hypothyroidism, a disease CHRISTUS St. Patrick Dr. Timothy Haman says affects the small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck controlling metabolism.

"The thyroid is a gland that is located on the front part of your neck on the top of your trachea," he said.

That small gland has a big job, keeping bodily functions on track. When it is off it is either in the form of hyperthyroidism - connected to rapid heart rate and weight loss - or hypothyroidism.

"People will commonly have dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, fatigue and just an overall feeling that they don't feel right," said Dr. Haman.

The best way to determine a diagnosis of thyroid disease is with a standard blood test. But ultrasound technology can also be used to detect whether or not there are nodules in the thyroid.

Thyroid disease is most common in young women with a family history, but can also be random. In Vallette's case, daily medication helped her get her hypothyroidism under control and get pregnant with baby number two.

"Since I'm pregnant," said Vallette, "we have to stay on top of managing the levels, so about every six weeks I get my blood drawn, just to make sure the dosage I'm on is okay and I've been fine."

The most common thyroid disorder occurring around or during pregnancy is hypothyroidism. When it is severe, it can reduce a woman's chances of becoming pregnant, but when treated, it can typically function properly again.

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