Brief Overview of Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Women
Hypothyroidism is a condition that is characterized by the deficiency of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Since the thyroid hormones regulate the rate of metabolism in the human body, the main symptoms of hypothyroidism are often associated with slowing metabolism. The symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism are of particular concern in women, since according to the statistics, the deficiency of thyroid hormones is observed in ten percent of the gender. Men face this disease a little less.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
There are two main causes of hypothyroidism. First of all, this type of thyroid disease can be caused by the inflammation of the thyroid gland that damages the tissues of the organ – and as a result, the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough hormones. The most common example of such dysfunction of the thyroid gland is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the type of thyroid gland inflammation caused by the body’s immune system.
The second, no less common cause of thyroid hormone deficiency – is the result of medical procedures. The treatment of certain thyroid diseases (especially those that have to do with the elevated activity of the gland), involves removing parts or sometimes the entire thyroid gland. As a result the gland is not able to produce enough hormones, which leads to the development of hypothyroidism. In particular, this scenario is most common in the treatment of thyroid cancer. Additionally, the partial removal of the thyroid tissue is often required for the detection of suspicious nodules in the tissues of the gland. In some cases, even after the partial removal, the thyroid gland continues to function normally, producing enough hormones to maintain the normal functioning of the body systems. However, a surgery very often leads to hypothyroidism.
The damage to the thyroid cells, which results in the reduced activity of the gland, can be the result of other methods of treatment of the thyroid diseases, in particular those involving the use of radioactive iodine that is utilized in the treatment of goiter. The purpose of this method of treatment is the elimination of the thyroid gland cells with radioactive iodine to prevent the enlargement of the thyroid gland or cutting down on the amount of hormones that it produces (hyperthyroidism). In some cases, the effect of the radioactive iodine is so great that it leads to the signs of hypothyroidism observed for a certain period (usually a year or two).
In very rare cases, the deficiency of thyroid hormone is not associated with the activity of the organ. Even a completely healthy thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones because of the problems associated with the pituitary gland, which is produced by TSH, which regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Some of the most prominent hypothyroidism symptoms in women include:
- Increase in body weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, pale skin
- Loss of hair
- Intolerance to cold
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Depression attacks
- Increased irritability
- Memory loss
- Disorders of the menstrual cycle
- Problems with libido
Potential effects of hypothyroidism
To compensate for the deficiency of thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland starts to produce more thyroid-stimulating hormones in an attempt to increase the activity of the thyroid gland. Consistently high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones can lead to the enlargement of the thyroid gland and goiter formation.
Without proper treatment,hypothyroidism symptoms in women are usually progressive. In rare cases, complications can lead to conditions that threaten the health and even life – severe depression, cardiovascular problems and even coma.
In most cases, hypothyroidism can be diagnosed through a series of simple blood tests. This disease of the thyroid gland is easily treatable, and usually requires taking one tablet a day for a short period of time. Hypothyroidism is treated with special hormone replacing medications compensating the deficit of thyroid hormones.