Although thyroid disorders and menopause are not connected, they often have similar symptoms. Thyroid problems affect 1 in 8 women in the United States and many women with thyroid disorders often assume they are experiencing menopausal symptoms.
An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is where too many thyroid hormones are produced. Its symptoms include hyperactivity, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, sensitivity to heat, hot flashes, excessive perspiration, and feeling tired constantly. It is also possible to have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which has symptoms that include tiredness, feeling cold frequently, weight gain, constipation, and depression. However, each condition has many different symptoms in addition.
Menopause or Thyroid Disease?
Before you can treat your condition, it is essential to determine the source of your hot flashes and any other symptoms that you have. If your hot flashes are menopausal, it would be due to a decrease in the levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. If your hot flashes are thyroidal, it would be due to an excess of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
To find out what is going on in your body, it is advisable to get a blood test to check the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), or for menopause a follicle-stimulating hormone test (FSH). This helps avoid improper treatment.
One of the best things you can do if you are faced with hot flashes is avoid triggers. Smoking, excessive alcohol, and obesity can cause hot flashes and thyroid problems. Try to cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and drugs, while incorporating 2.5 hours or more of physical activity into your week to regulate your body temperature and stay in shape. Women who have frequent hot flashes are often able to identify triggers that are specific to them and then avoid those.
A common cause for hyperthyroidism is the inflammation of the thyroid. For this reason, it is important to identify and avoid possible allergens and eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Common allergies are of gluten, soy, nuts, and eggs. You may want to determine if you have developed an allergy to one or more foods, as new allergies often arise during menopause because of estrogen decline.
Panicking during a hot flash can aggravate the symptoms of a hot flash and make it worse. Anxiety can double the severity of hot flashes, which is the last thing you need if you're faced with either thyroidal or menopausal hot flashes.
In order to improve coping abilities and reduce the likelihood of experiencing rushes of heat altogether, practice deep breathing and meditation. Around 15 - 20 slow inhales and exhales deep into your belly can relax your body and keep you cool.
It is essential to understand the background of your hot flashes in order to respond accordingly. Hot flashes can become unbearable when you do not know the proper measures to take in order to manage them. By cutting out triggers, avoiding allergens, and deep breathing, you can be well on your way to overcoming thyroid problems and hot flashes.