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    8 Common Signs You Could Have A Thyroid Problem

    Things we thought were important for our overall health: the heart and the lungs. Things that are actually also important: everything else! That includes the thyroid, a little-known gland that’s been getting tons of attention in recent years after multiple reports involving a thyroid problem surfaced about women discovering its malfunction was behind their weight gain, lack of energy and even missed periods. So is yours acting up?
    What is a thyroid?
    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck wrapped around the windpipe, and it is responsible for making hormones that are important for different systems in the body to function properly. One of the hormones that are produced by the thyroid is thyroxine (T4).  The right amount of T4 in your blood is essential to support your body’s digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development, bone upkeep, and ensure that other organs work as they should.
    One in eight women suffers from health problems related to their thyroid. And it’s easy to see why a thyroid problem would be mystifying. “There are a number of symptoms associated with thyroid disease which can easily be overlooked or confused with other conditions,” says Dr Sindeep Bhana, Head of Endocrinology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and a specialist in thyroid disease.
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    There are six major thyroid problems:

    Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid
    Hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid
    Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid, which can cause over- or underactivity and often presents postpartum
    Goiter – enlarged thyroid, which can cause overactive thyroid
    Thyroid nodules – lumps on the thyroid, which can also cause overactive thyroid
    Thyroid cancer – a rare cancer that may present without symptoms, except for a lump in the neck or soreness

    Experts aren’t sure what causes your thyroid go on the fritz (though your genes, autoimmune conditions, and stress could play a role).
    Specialists say that more than half the women suffering from thyroid disorders don’t even know they’re ill and often go undiagnosed. Mainly because it’s easy to brush off common symptoms as signs of everyday stress or ageing. In Dr Bhana’s research experience, approximately 4% of the South African population suffers from hypothyroidism and he estimates that at least half of these cases remain undiagnosed. Furthermore, people of Indian origin have the highest prevalence of hypothyroidism, followed by Caucasians; however, Dr Bhana does caution that hypothyroidism is also a health concern in people of mixed race and African descent.
    So, if you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to more than one of the points below, ask your doctor to run a simple blood test that checks your T4 levels, called a TSH test. They’ll then be able to suggest treatment options that can help your thyroid get back on track.
    READ MORE: Could Intermittent Resting Be The Key To Your Fatigue?
    1. You’re Aways Tired, No Matter How Much Sleep You Get
    Thyroid hormones stimulate the brain, so when too little T4 – a condition called hypothyroidism – is pumping through your bloodstream, your bodily functions slow down. This leaves you feeling exhausted and sluggish. It can also affect your mood, as too little T4 can lower your serotonin levels. Find you’re forgetful? That’s because your hippocampus (your brain’s memory hub) needs T4 to function, too.
    2. You Feel Like You Drank ALL The Coffee
    On the opposite end of the spectrum , you may find that you feel ‘wired’. This can signal that your thyroid is pumping out too much of the hormone.
    3. Suddenly Your Jeans Don’t Fit
    If you have an underactive thyroid you may find that you pick up weight. Your body converts fewer kilojoules into energy, because the lack of T4 slows your metabolism to a snail’s pace. And, just to add insult to injury, you may also retain water since your kidneys also slow down and can’t excrete fluids fast enough. But if your thyroid is operating at light-speed, you might end up losing weight (even if you’re still stuffing your face).
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    4. Your Period Is Irregular
    When your periods become, longer, irregular, and heavier, it could signal that your T4 levels are in short supply. Hypothyroidism is linked to high levels of prolactin, a hormone that’s primarily responsible for stimulating the production of breast milk after childbirth, but also regulates the menstrual cycle. On the other hand is your cycle suddenly becomes longer (so your periods are farther apart but shorter) and lighter, it could be a sign that you have hyperthyroidism.
    5. Your Heart Races For No Reason
    Does your heart literally skip a beat? An overload of T4 can cause your heart to amp up its usual pace as your tissues are demanding more oxygen-rich blood. Hello, heart palpitations. You may notice the feeling in your chest or other pulse points (your throat or wrist).
    6. You Get The Chills Or You’re Suddenly Super Sweaty
    Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Can your body just make up it’s mind already? When your thyroid is overactive and your metabolism speeds up, you end up sweating. When it’s underactive, your body tries to conserve heat by limiting blood flow to the skin, which can leave you feeling like an icicle even on a warm day.
    READ MORE: Cold versus COVID — How To Tell The Difference
    7. Your Bathroom Habits Change
    Yup, we’re talking about your poop. When you have hypothyroidism the muscles in the gut slow, leaving you constipated. The reverse is true when you have an overactive thyroid (ahem, diarrhoea).
    8. Your Skin Is Dry And Your Hair Is Brittle
    A slow metabolism = less sweat. Without the extra moisture, your skin can become as a dry as a desert, your nails can crack and your hair can break.
    If you have a thyroid problem, what’s the test?
    If you’re ticking boxes here, you may wanna call up your doctor and request a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test. The role of TSH is similar to that of the conductor of an orchestra in that TSH controls the amount of T4 that is produced by the thyroid gland. Changes in blood TSH levels can be a sign that T4 levels are too high or too low; high TSH indicates that the thyroid gland is not making enough T4 (hypothyroidism), and low TSH may indicate that too much T4 is being produced (hyperthyroidism). In most healthy individuals, a normal TSH value means that the thyroid is functioning properly.

    READ MORE ON: Health Health Advice Health Conditions Thyroid More

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    10 Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency

    Magnesium is a key mineral to women’s health, and yet many women are low in this essential mineral, suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Stress, caffeine and alcohol deplete our magnesium stores faster than we can replenish. Could it be time for a little top up?
    Along with increasing fresh produce in your diet, many of us require further supplementation to meet our recommended daily intake of 310g for women. Magnesium is best absorbed as a powder or liquid with magnesium glycinate, magnesium biglycinate or magnesium citrate being the easiest for the body to absorb and utilise. 
    READ MORE: Cold versus COVID — How To Tell The Difference
    Here are 10 signs you might have a magnesium deficiency and may need to pick up a supplement. But even if you check out for all 10 and think you have a magnesium deficiency, remember that you should always speak to your health practitioner before starting a new supplement.
    1. You have period pain
    While period pain is common, it is not normal. Magnesium can reduce inflammation and relax the smooth muscles of the uterus to reduce symptoms of dysmenorrhea (period pain) for some women.
    2. You are tired all the time
    Magnesium plays a major role in our energy levels, supporting energy production at a cellular level. If you are not consuming enough magnesium, your body simply may not have enough resources to create the daily energy it requires.
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    3. You crumble under pressure
    Magnesium helps to calm our nervous system. During times of stress, our magnesium levels deplete rapidly, meaning there isn’t enough stores to support our nervous system and calm the body. Stress naturally produces cortisol and adrenaline, a little is a good thing, but when these two are elevated for too long we start to see the body crumble under the pressure.
    Magnesium changes how the body responds to stress in the first place – meaning, we are more likely to stay calm and collected.
    4. You are feeling anxious 
    Dopamine is our relaxing hormone; low levels of magnesium is associated with lower dopamine production. Increasing your daily magnesium intake can support dopamine production and provide support against the symptoms of anxiety.
    5. You have monthly PMS
    Research has shown that women with PMS have lower levels of magnesium when compared to those without reoccurring PMS. This is thought to be due to magnesium’s role on women’s hormones, in particular progesterone. After ovulation we produce progesterone; it is our calming superpower. When the body is not producing enough progesterone, we start to see mood shifts prior to a bleed.
    READ MORE: Are You Ready to Make The Switch to a Menstrual Cup?
    6. You have a serious sweet tooth
    Magnesium plays a role in our blood glucose management, improving insulin receptors and supporting blood sugar levels. This means that we have less sugar cravings when we have adequate magnesium supplies.
    7. You are often constipated
    For a happy digestive system we want to be moving our bowels once or twice a day. If you are feeling that your bowels are slow moving or that the stool itself is hard to pass, small pellets or thin like a snake, then Magnesium may be the helper you need.
    During times of stress our internal organs feel it too, magnesium can support by relaxing the digestive system so that waste can eliminate easily. Daily elimination is essential to hormonal health as well, as we need to clear oestrogen to support healthy hormone function, such as progesterone production.
    8. You are having troubles falling asleep
    Magnesium’s role on the nervous system extends into our sleep routine as well. Firstly, by supporting our overall stress response to feel calmer and unwind into the evening with ease, and by enhancing the quality of sleep each night. Magnesium is best taken in the early evening to best support sleep.
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    9. You have high blood pressure
    Magnesium and calcium work together to support healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Increasing your dietary sources of magnesium such as dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains will further support overall cardiovascular health.
    10. Your muscles cramp and twitch
    Magnesium plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation. If you are experiencing sore limbs after exercise, restless legs during sleep or even frequent eye twitches it may be time to increase your magnesium. 
    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health AU

    READ MORE ON: Health Advice Health Conditions Vitamin Deficiency More

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    Wondering Why You Keep Getting Trapped Wind? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

    From bloating to flatulence: trapped wind certainly is a riot of glamorous symptoms. And, if you are dealing with persistent stomach cramps and abdominal pain, then it makes sense to get clued up on why this gastrointestinal issue happens in the first place – and how to best defeat it.
    To guide us on our way, WH has asked Dr Anthony Hobson, a clinical scientist at The Functional Gut Clinic, to share his expertise with us. Think of the below as a knowledge bomb: wind edition.
    READ MORE: Exactly Why You Get Gas And Diarrhoea On Your Period
    What is trapped wind?
    Trapped wind occurs when the gas that occurs in your digestive tract, as a result of you swallowing air or as a by-product of your gut breaking down foods, builds up. This can cause:

    abdominal pain
    gurgling noises coming from your stomach

    Why do I keep getting trapped wind?
    First off: there are three reasons as to why you might keep getting trapped wind, with myriad causes. Let’s break them down.

    You’re eating a tad over-enthusiastically and swallowing more air: you’ll feel this higher up in your stomach
    You have a food intolerance: you’ll feel this in your lower abdomen
    Something more serious is going on

    READ MORE: High FODMAP Foods Might Be The Reason Why You’re Always SO Bloated
    What causes trapped wind?
    Eating too fast
    ‘If you eat too fast, you can end up swallowing a lot of gas and air,’ says Dr Hobson. ‘Then you can start burping a lot.’ This is easy to deal with. ‘Just try some small behavioural changes,’ Dr Hobson elaborates.
    What do to do about it:
    ‘Chew your food well before you swallow, and exhale in-between bites.’ If you always wait until you’re famished before you pick up a fork, it’s easy to neglect this, so try not to have your dinner super late.
    Artificial sweeteners
    Worth noting: some artificial sweeteners, like can be found in chewing gum and diet fizzy drinks, are hard for your stomach to break down, and may also cause trapped wind.
    What do to do about it:
    Try avoiding these for a while, and see how you go.
    Food intolerances
    When it comes to the food intolerance potential cause? ‘Gas is produced as a byproduct of fermentation in your gut. You have lots of bacteria in your lower gut, which is good, because they help to breakdown some of your food,’ explains Dr Hobson.
    ‘But if this gets too aggressive and too much is broken down or if your food is not being absorbed properly [as can be the case when you eat foods that you’re intolerant to] you get gas production. You’ll usually feel this just below your belly button on the right hand side of your body but it can spread, and is likely to be associated with flatulence.’
    What do to do about it:
    ‘Some people, for example, may have a mild intolerance to gluten, rather than a fully-fledged allergy. Some have issues with lactose, in dairy products, or fructose, in fruit drinks.’ All of the above can result in an unhappy gut and subsequent trapped wind.
    One thing to avoid? ‘Be wary of at-home allergy tests,’ says Dr Hobson. ‘They can be wildly inaccurate.’ Seeking out a dietician-approved number, or going via your GP, is a better option.
    READ MORE: 9 Gluten-Intolerance Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
    Can trapped wind be serious?
    The third cause is something you’ll need to head to your doctor about. ‘If, as well as trapped wind, you’re dealing with unintentional weight loss, if you’re passing blood when you go to the toilet or if you still have pain after going to the toilet, then go and see your GP,’ advises Dr Hobson.
    What do to do about it:
    They might send you for blood and stool tests, to rule out any serious conditions. Should these come back negative, you may be sent to a dietician, to check about food intolerances.
    Trapped wind in early pregnancy
    ‘In pregnancy, everything is more sensitive,’ says Dr Hobson. ‘This is thanks to the extra abdominal pressure. There are no major changes to your digestion at this time, but everything will be more heightened.’ The extra progesterone that your body produces in pregnancy also plays a role: it relaxes the bowel, which can then, again, cause more digestive issues.
    Why does trapped wind hurt so much?
    When excessive gas accrues in your digestive system, the pressure can cause pain.
    READ MORE: 18 Ways To Stop Feeling So Damn Bloated All The Time
    How long can trapped wind last?
    If you’re getting trapped wind consistently for three months and you’ve tried all the usual lifestyle modifications, then Dr Hobson recommends heading to your GP. (If you are passing blood, obviously head there right away.)
    What does trapped wind feel like?
    When you have trapped wind, you might feel that you are bloated, as well as crampy or stabby stomach pains.
    This article was originally published on Women’s Health UK

    READ MORE ON: Gut Issues Health Conditions More

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    A Glimpse Of What It’s Like To Live With The Rare Swelling Disorder “Hereditary Angioedema”

    With just under 100 patients with a confirmed diagnosis in South Africa, it’s very possible that you’ve never heard of hereditary angioedema (HAE). But it can take an average of 13 years for a patient to receive the right diagnosis and treatment, which is why awareness around the disorder is vital. What exactly is HAE? […] More