Thyroid issues during pregnancy is a common clinical problem. A hyperactive thyroid or an underactive thyroid increases the risk of pregnancy complications, but with timely clinical intervention, the issue can be addressed, treated, and managed well. That is why, it is recommended to have thyroid function test during early pregnancy or before the conception. Also, the mild symptoms of thyroid disorder are very similar to the normal side effects of pregnancy which makes it difficult to identify the need of any thyroid check-up. And if left untreated, these mild symptoms can gradually become severe and result in a complicated pregnancy.
As an expecting mother, it is important to be aware of the symptoms in your body that point towards a medical condition to seek early treatment.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy
Hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is caused by an auto-immune disorder called Grave’s disease which causes overproduction of thyroid hormones. The signs and symptoms can be anxiety, irritability, sweating, goitre, unexplained weight loss, frequent bowel movements, and palpitations. A number of these symptoms coincide with the normal side effects of pregnancy, so it gets difficult to identify hyperthyroidism during pregnancy. Therefore, a woman should be cautious enough to consult a doctor if she notices any of these symptoms more often.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism during pregnancy
Pregnant women require more thyroid hormones to support their fetus and their own increased metabolic activities. A normal and healthy thyroid is able to meet these requirements, but women with hypoactive thyroid face decreased levels of thyroid hormones which continues to decline during the pregnancy phase. Some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism during pregnancy can be fatigue, low energy levels, weight gain, hair loss, swollen face, slow heart rate, depression, and constipation. Such symptoms should be reported to the doctor, administered, and treated to rule out any damage to the fetus.
Who is at risk?
Women with prior diagnosis of thyroid problem or a family history of thyroid disorder are at higher risk of thyroid problems during the pregnancy.
Risk for the fetus and mother
Right balance of thyroid hormones is critical for the health of baby and mother both. Especially, in the first trimester, baby is entirely dependent on supply of thyroid hormones from their mother which help in the development of brain and nervous system. Any disorder in the supply of these hormones can lead to neurological problems in the child. Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, anaemia, still birth, neurological disorders, and other medical situations.
What you can do?
If you are planning a pregnancy, get your thyroid levels checked. If you are already on thyroid medication, let your doctor know as he may require to adjust the dose. Also, the thyroid levels change quickly during the pregnancy period, so regular monitoring of thyroid function test every 4 to 6 weeks is also required.
There has been significant clinical and scientific advancement in the field of thyroid treatment and management during pregnancy, preconception, and postpartum. Thyroid disorder during pregnancy can be managed well if diagnosed and treated on time. Sticking to doctor’s advice and regular follow-ups is a must to keep the child safe and avoid miscarriages. The doctor may also advice on food and lifestyle changes to be taken care of in severe cases that need personalized treatment plan. While continuing consultations with your gynaecologist, you can also seek suggestion from an endocrinologist for better treatment and care. Keep yourself informed and seek medical help at every stage of your pregnancy.