Symptoms of Low Thyroid in Women

The thyroid gland is situated at the lower end of the neck just under Adam’s apple. It secretes thyroid hormones which are essential to metabolism in the body’s cells. The thyroid hormones thus control the energy levels, other hormones, use of nutrients by the body, and the growth and development of varied tissues in the body.

The decreased production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland in combination with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland leads to an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. Low thyroid is more common in women as compared to men. Also, even though the condition affects individuals of all ages, it is more prominent in older women.

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Symptoms of low thyroid in women

Low thyroid in women may affect the cognitive, physical, and/or digestive systems. It may result in the following signs and symptoms:

  • Muscle aches, cramps, and tenderness
  • Increased levels of blood cholesterol
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor appetite
  • Elevated tiredness and lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Easy fatigue
  • The joints, including the wrist, may experience swelling, pain, or stiffness
  • Numbness of the hands
  • Gain in weight
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Loss of hair, which is an indication of inadequate nutrition resulting from lowered metabolism in cells
  • Coarse and dry skin, in addition to a pale complexion
  • Tremors and shivers
  • Nervousness
  • A hoarser and deeper quality to the voice
  • Depression
  • Impaired intellectual ability leading to forgetfulness, memory loss, and even dementia
  • Lowered immunity, and immune system abnormalities
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods, or lack of periods
  • Changes in stool
  • Elevated sensitivity to cold

Causes of low thyroid in women

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A few causes of low thyroid in women are listed below:

  • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland or its destruction during radiotherapy can result in low thyroid in women. The above procedures may be carried out to treat hyperthyroidism or other conditions of the thyroid gland.
  • Intake of certain medicines such as lithium
  • Low thyroid in women may also be caused due to problems of the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland, or the hypothalamus
  • Conditions such as persistent hepatitis, diabetes, etc. lead to production of anti-thyroid antibodies which can then cause low thyroid in women
  • Hypothyroidism may also be present from birth. It can be diagnosed with early screening methods

Treatment of low thyroid in women

Women who experience the above discussed symptoms of low thyroid have to consult a doctor for diagnosis and effective management.

  • As low thyroid is caused due to deficient thyroid hormone production, the condition is generally treated via thyroid hormone replacement therapy. It may have to be continued for the lifetime of the patient.
  • L-thyroxine, L-triiodothyronine, and thyroid extract or “natural” thyroid hormone are given during thyroid hormone replacement therapy. The most common medication is L-thyroxine as it is safe with least side effects. L-triiodothyronine may be used in combination with L-thyroxine in patients who do not respond to the use of only L-thyroxine. Thyroid extract refers to dried and powdered pig thyroid gland. It is rarely used.
  • Exercise, changes in diet, and intake of nutritional supplements are also recommended.
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