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What's the difference between thyroid disease and menopause?

Mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. Sounds like menopause, right?

Wrong.

While these symptoms and several more often do point to the onset of perimenopause in a woman, they all are common symptoms of thyroid dysfunction as well. Because thyroid disorders are common in women around the ages during which menopause also sets in, these problems can be difficult to diagnose. In addition, many women believing that they are going through the change never seek medical advice.

What are the differences between the two?

Thyroid disease and menopause have many of the same symptoms, and in some cases one can feed off of the other and worsen these symptoms. However, there are a few distinctions between the two conditions that may give you clues about what to look for.

Age of onset

Menopause commonly occurs for most women between the ages of 45 and 52, although symptoms are sometimes noticed much earlier or later in life. However, with thyroid conditions, the window of time in which symptoms are likely to appear is much larger. Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism most often shows up between the ages of 35 and 65.

Aches and pains

While both menopause and thyroid disease are associated by aches and pains in multiple regions of the body, several distinctions can be made. Menopause is usually characterized by muscle tension, breast tenderness and joint pain. Thyroid disease, on the other hand, usually manifests itself as swelling of the arms, legs and/or neck along with neck pain.

Hair loss

One of the more distinctive signs of thyroid conditions is the possible loss of eyelash hair or hair in the eyebrows. Hair loss often occurs during menopause as well, but it usually involves female pattern baldness or hair thinning.

Testing

Doctors use different tests to identify these conditions. To test for menopause, which is associated with a fluctuation in hormones, a doctor will test for levels of follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH. This hormone will give him or her a clue about your estrogen levels. To test for thyroid disease, the doctor will employ a different method-a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test.

More Information about Menopause:

Although insomnia, mood swings, depression and fatigue are common symptoms of menopause, there are some lesser known symptoms as well, such as electric shock and burning tongue. Click the following link to learn more about the symptoms of menopause.

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