Thyroid Disorders: What Women Need to Know About Hypothyroidism

Thyroid Disorders: What Women Need to Know About Hypothyroidism

Did you know that thyroid disorders are one of the most common problems affecting women? In fact, according to the American Thyroid Association, up to 60% of women will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetimes. One of the most common types of thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism can cause several health problems if left untreated, including heart disease, osteoporosis, infertility, and more.

The good news is that hypothyroidism and many of its symptoms can be treated if the condition is diagnosed early. If you are unsure what signs to look out for, here’s all you need to know about hypothyroidism.

Risk Factors: Why Are Women More at Risk?

When it comes to hypothyroidism, the risk for women is about ten times higher than it is for men. One reason for this is that thyroid disorders are commonly triggered by autoimmune responses, which are more prevalent in women than in men.

Another reason for the high incidence of thyroid problems in women is that thyroid hormones interact with other hormones that fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. Thyroid issues can occur at any time, but they are most typical during and after menopause when hormone levels fluctuate. Thyroid disorders and symptoms related to menopause can be confused, which often prevents women from seeking treatment.

What Are the Causes of Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid gland. The most common cause of this is Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes of hypothyroidism can include radiation therapy to the neck area, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, and certain medications.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism vary depending on how severe the hormone deficiency is, and issues typically develop gradually over many years. Hypothyroidism symptoms, such as tiredness and weight gain, may be subtle at first, and you might even dismiss them as just simple signs of aging. However, as your metabolism slows down, you may experience more severe issues.

Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sore and stiff joints
  • Heavier or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s important to see your doctor. They may order blood tests to determine if you have hypothyroidism. Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to several health problems, including heart disease, goiter, osteoporosis, significant changes in appearance, infertility, and more.

Most people with hypothyroidism can be treated successfully with medication prescribed by their doctor. Treatment usually involves taking a synthetic thyroid hormone pill every day. With treatment, most people feel better and have more energy. In some cases, however, surgery or radiation therapy may be necessary to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

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