Thyroid Symptoms in Women
What is thyroid disease? And what are the thyroid symptoms in women? These are important questions, especially if you’re dealing with problems you suspect may be caused by your thyroid gland. Following are a few answers to get you started.
First, thyroid disease is any one of several conditions afflicting the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland itself is a small organ in the neck that’s responsible for secreting hormones that keep the body’s metabolism, protein generation and energy use in balance. It’s a part of the endocrine system, a collection of glands throughout the body that regulate internal systems.
There are several conditions that cause thyroid symptoms in women. Thyroid cancer causes relatively few symptoms but is a leading cause of thyroid problems. Thankfully, it’s one of the most beatable cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 97%. A neck nodule or enlarged lymph node will often develop as the first sign of cancer, followed later by pain in the back of the neck and vocal changes.
Thyroiditis is another condition that can cause thyroid symptoms. This is an inflammation of the thyroid, and the symptoms include everything from fatigue and depression to weight gain and constipation. These signs are not unique to thyroiditis, and they often mimic other diseases, making the condition difficult to diagnose properly.
The two best-known disorders of the thyroid are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both of which cause thyroid symptoms in women. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid and occurs when the gland secretes too little of its hormones. Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, results from the over-secretion of these hormones.
Hypothyroidism is the more common of the two, afflicting about 5% of the population. It can be caused by such things as heredity (though that’s rare), stress, iodine deficiencies and autoimmune disorders. Surgery to remove the thyroid, whether because of hyperthyroidism or cancer, is a common cause of hypothyroidism. The condition can present with cold sensitivity, fatigue, memory lapses, slowed heart rate, weight gain and hair loss.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, affects about 1% of the population. Its thyroid symptoms in women include such problems as sleep interruptions, protruding eyes, irritability, diarrhoea, sensitivity to heat, muscle weakness, profuse sweating, neck goitres, heart palpitations, increased appetite and weight loss. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune dysfunction, is the most typical cause. Treatments include antithyroid drugs, dietary changes, surgery, beta-blockers and radiation therapy.
All of these disorders – thyroid cancer, thyroiditis, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism – strike women disproportionately harder than men. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your health and talk to your doctor if any of these thyroid symptoms in women strike you.
If you are concerned about thyroid symptoms or thyroid problems contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.