Hypothyroidism refers to a common thyroid condition caused due to low levels of thyroid hormone in the body. The disorder can result in some severe complications in women, particularly those in the age group between 35 and 60 years.
Hypothyroidism may be caused due to certain thyroid gland conditions, or due to pituitary gland abnormalities which lead to decreased production of TSH or the thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH activates the thyroid gland to secrete the triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4 hormones. Women are more prone to the condition as opposed to men.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in women
The symptoms of hypothyroidism occur over a periods of a few months or even some years. Women with minor hypothyroidism may not experience any symptoms, especially in the initial stages.
A few common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in women are listed below:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Thinning of hair or hair loss
- Cold and dry skin
- Constant exhaustion, fatigue, and low levels of energy
- Breathing problems
- Brittle or fragile nails
- Hoarseness of voice
- Loss of weight
- High levels of blood cholesterol
- Cold intolerance
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Droopy or puffy eyelids, and swelling around the eyes
- Facial puffiness
- Swelling of the hands, arms, and feet
- Decreased sex drive
- Impaired coordination and poor concentration
- Muscle cramps and aches
- Low blood pressure
Causes of hypothyroidism in women
- Hypothyroidism in women is commonly caused due to dysfunction of the thyroid gland after surgical removal of the gland as treatment for hyperthyroidism, or for thyroid cancer, an enlarged thyroid gland, or thyroid nodules which are malignant or overactive.
- Pregnant women require increased levels of the thyroid hormone to cope up with the bodily changes. This can in turn cause hypothyroidism in women.
- Radioactive iodine therapy for hyperthyroidism can also destroy the thyroid gland and cause hypothyroidism.
- In rare cases, hypothalamus and pituitary gland abnormalities can also increase the susceptibility to developing hypothyroidism.
- Other causes of hypothyroidism in women include radiation therapy, deficiency of iodine, bacterial and viral infections which cause short-term thyroid gland damage, certain drugs that inhibit the functions of the gland, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and similar autoimmune diseases, etc.
Treatment of hypothyroidism in women
It is important to seek medical attention whenever women experience the symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism and its resultant complications are completely treatable with medications, effective regulation of thyroid hormone levels, and certain lifestyle changes.
- As hypothyroidism in women is generally caused due to decreased levels of thyroid hormone, the disease is primarily treated via varied thyroid hormone replacement drugs prescribed by a doctor. The symptoms of hypothyroidism usually show improvement within the first week of treatment itself.
- In case hypothyroidism in women is caused due to diseases or infection of the thyroid gland, then it is resolved by treating the underling illness.
- It is vital to treat instances of hypothyroidism during pregnancy, promptly and efficiently. Patients must however consult a doctor before commencing the intake of thyroid hormone supplements so as to prevent any unwanted pregnancy complications.