Your thyroid is a small gland in the front of your neck. It secretes a hormone called “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” (or TSH), T3 and T4. For such a small gland, it plays a huge and vital role in the body and touches nearly every system. There are a few problems that can arise if you have an undiagnosed and untreated thyroid problem during your pregnancy. Thankfully, this quick guide can help you recognize when there’s an issue and seek medical attention.
Hashimoto’s and Graves are autoimmune reactions to the thyroid. Hashimoto’s leads to hypothyroidism and Graves leads to hyperthyroidism.
This is the most severe problem that can arise. If you develop hyperthyroidism and leave it untreated, it can lead to what is known as a “thyroid storm” which requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms of a storm are fever, severe sweating, diarrhea, severe weakness, seizure, irregular heartbeat, jaundice, low blood pressure, and comatose state.
The condition causes your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature to rise to dangerous levels. This will be deadly if you ignore it.
Untreated hypothyroidism is more likely than hyperthyroidism to cause complications while you’re pregnant, thyroid storm being a major exception. If hyperthyroidism is left untreated, it can lead to stillbirth or premature delivery. If you continue without treatment, it can lead to you having a heart attack or preeclampsia.
This condition is nowhere near as deadly as hyperthyroidism but can lead to complications like developmental delays if left untreated while one is pregnant.
Both conditions lead to a higher risk of miscarriage, but hypothyroidism leads to a slightly larger risk. Levothyroxine (the medication used for hypothyroidism) is generally safe for use with pregnant women but it may need to be adjusted during the first trimester.
Of course, consult a doctor before taking any medications.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Low tolerance to heat, overheating, heart palpitations, anxiety, weight loss, fatigue but energy, sweating, extreme hunger, restless, insomnia, hyperactive, irritable, diarrhea, hair loss, weak muscles, tremors.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Fatigue, sluggish feeling, cold and no tolerance to the cold, hair loss, brittle hair and nails, constipation, fatigue, dry skin, high cholesterol, irritability, slower heart rate, weight gain.
Should everyone ask for a test?
Every woman should get her thyroid labs drawn once near the beginning of the pregnancy to make sure, a lot of the symptoms overlap with pregnancy and a lot of symptoms can lie dormant. Autoimmune diseases can take up to 2-3 years to show symptoms. Most women shouldn’t worry, but untreated can lead to some devastating side effects if ignored.