Hypothyroidism is a very common health problem, however hypothyroid symptoms in women are often overlooked and millions of people do not receive an adequate thyroid treatment.
At hypothyroidism, the production of thyroid hormones is decreased to abnormally low levels (T3 and/or T4) and TSH is increased. The lack of thyroid hormone affects the function of every cell in the body slowing down the metabolic rate.
The patient starts to develop an array of symptoms. The variety and severity of the hypothyroid symptoms depends on the physiology, contributing factors and how advanced the hypothyroidism is.
About 90% of hypothyroidism in industrialized countries is due to autoimmune thyroid condition Hashimoto’s disease. Most people who develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis do not notice any symptoms initially. Sometimes the person could become fatigued and feel a mild pressure in the thyroid gland.
At this stage, the only possible indicators of the disease could be the high level of antibodies and structural changes of the thyroid gland detectable by ultrasound and/0r biopsy. When the damage to the thyroid gland starts to affect its function then the individual begins to experience symptoms of hypothyroidism.
In people with Hashimoto’s disease hypothyroidism and signs of underactive thyroid have a tendency to develop slowly and may be mistaken for stress and aging. Symptoms can be unspecific and attributed to many health conditions or just dismissed by some doctors. Patients often hear remarks like “It all in your head” or “It’s just a part of getting older”. Often it could take years until the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough hormones that are required to meet the body’s needs.
There are several stages of hypothyroidism. The incidence of clinical hypothyroidism in women is in a range from 0.5 to 1.9% and of subclinical from 3 to 13.6%. The difference between clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism lies in the severity of the symptoms.
The majority of people with subclinical hypothyroidism do not have any symptoms. However, about 30% of individuals could experience some features which are nonspecific and could be mistakenly attributed to other disease. Every patient is different and develops unique symptoms, however fatigue is the most common hypothyroid symptom.
Symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism:
- cold intolerance
- dry skin
- voice hoarseness
- decreased hearing
- sleepiness, however mild hypothyroidism is also one of causes of insomnia in women
- difficulty to loose weight
- numbness or tingling
- slowing in physical and mental activity
- coarse, dry, thinning hair
In the patients with subclinical hypothyroidism disorders of muscular function, nerve and reproductive systems, fertility problems, decreased infant birth weight, increased placental detachment and premature labor have been found more often as in women with a normally functioning thyroid.
Even a relatively small rise in TSH puts elderly people at risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis and heart attack.
In some patients subclinical hypothyroidism could progress to clinical and have more serious effects on general health and well-being. The most common are high blood cholesterol and triglycerides, increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease, even heart failure in elderly patients, neuromuscular symptoms, reproductive and other abnormalities.
Symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism will usually progress in clinical hypothyroidism to its more severe form.
The following hypothyroid symptoms could develop later on:
- sensitivity to light
- weight gain
- decreased libido
- weakness in the extremities
- muscle pain and aches
- irritability and mood instability
- impaired memory, confusion, brain fog and inability to concentrate
- women issues such as abnormal menstrual cycles and impaired fertility
- depression in women can be due to hypothyroidism, low T3, brain hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease even when thyroid lab test results are normal
- body and scalp hair loss
There are various clinical manifestations of severe hypothyroidism such as coagulation disorders, depression, severe memory impairment, lack of coordination of muscle movements, alteration in mental state, seizures, abnormalities of heart and digestive systems. At hypothyroidism, lack of thyroid hormone affects function of every cell in the body. The patient starts to develop a variety of health dysfunctions due to low thyroid function and slowing down of the metabolic rate.
Myxedema coma is an advanced stage of hypothyroidism that most commonly occurs in people with undiagnosed or untreated hypothyroidism or in elderly. This rare but life-threatening condition could be triggered by infection, medication, environmental and other metabolic related factors. The symptoms could be low blood pressure, decreased breathing and heart rate, low body temperature, unresponsiveness and even coma.
Thyroid tests to establish if you have abnormal or normal thyroid levels are recommended for women around menopause, elderly, in pregnancy, after delivery and for women with unexplained high levels of cholesterol.
It is challenging to define the hormone related symptoms of menopause from those that are caused by thyroid disease. Low-grade hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease in women around 50 can be confused with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The thyroid disease diagnosis is frequently missed and can lead to a lack of proper treatment and also make menopausal symptoms worse. Furthermore, the incidence of premature ovarian failure of the autoimmune origin or oophoritis is higher in women with Hashimoto’s disease.
The best way to eliminate hypothyroid symptoms is to get a proper diagnosis to correct the underlying problem
Consider working with an experienced physician who understands the difference between hypothyroidism, other hormonal inmbalances and adrenal fatigue and uses a holistic hypothyroidism treatment.
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