Symptoms of hypothyroidism in women are almost the same as those of men but are more associated with women given that hypothyroidism is said to be eight times more prevalent in them. Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that happens when not enough thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland.
The thyroid hormone affects every cell of the body and deficiency in its production can affect the body’s metabolism, reproduction, digestion and mental functions. The main cause of the disease is iodine deficiency. The hypothyroid symptoms in women can develop in various ages and stages in her life. It can be experienced by some right after giving birth.
This is because stress and excessive bleeding during childbirth may affect the thyroid gland leading to the new mother to immediately experience hypothyroidism symptoms. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in women are usually similar but the severity of them will depend on how advanced the condition is in each person.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Women
The hypothyroid symptoms in women are often subtle and take long to develop. What may confuse most in recognizing these symptoms is that they are often similar to common signs of aging that it is easy for them to be dismissed as such. In advanced cases of the disease however, the metabolic slowing down of the body become too obvious to miss.
- Weight gain due to the slowing down of the metabolism and fluid retention. This happens even if they eat less because of loss of appetite. Hypothyroidism can also affect the water-salt metabolism function of the kidneys resulting to edema or swelling. The edema starts with the extremities, stomach and then the face.
- Change in skin and hair appearance is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism in women. Skin in the face of patients becomes irritated, itchy, thick and unresponsive. The upper eyelids become heavy and are prone to droop while facial expressions may not appear normal. Hair loss in the eyebrow area occurs while the hair in the scalp become dry and will have split ends.
- Patients complain of fatigue and exhaustion. Others experience slow heartbeats, low blood pressure and heaviness of the heart.
- People notice the slowing down of the thought and speech processes as well as a dull reaction to her environment. They experience depression and apathy for no reason at all. There is a general feeling of lethargy and sleepiness that make them unable to keep up with what used to be their daily routine.
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism in women may include problems in the digestive system like constipation and swelling of the gastrointestinal tract. Vital vitamins and minerals such as protein and carbohydrates may not be absorbed efficiently by the body which may lead to other health issues for the patient.
- Infertility belongs to the worst side effects. It is one reason why women go to the doctor in the first place. They want to know the cause of their infertility only to be told that hypothyroidism is the culprit. Low levels of thyroid hormones cause ovulation not to happen which is why female patients may miss their periods. In addition, their sex drive will decrease which may have a great impact in their family relationships.
- Cold intolerance may be the most common but is the one most dismissed as just a minor discomfort. However, if this occurs for no reason or it is has not happened to the patient before, it should raise a red flag that something more serious is causing it.
Each patient will have different symptoms and they will vary depending on the severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and how long that the hormone deficiency has been going on. For some, the symptoms of hypothyroidism in women may be too subtle and take too long to develop that they are not noticed at all. There are very few cases of them not having any symptoms at all. If these symptoms are left untreated however, they will usually progress and may lead to far more serious and life threatening conditions such as heart problems, depression and coma.
More Serious Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Women
There is a severe case of hypothyroidism called thyrotoxic crisis that is life threatening because it affects two major organs of the body which are the heart and the brain. This could happen if the patient is untreated or is receiving inadequate treatment for her thyroid condition. Immediate treatment must be given to the patient with any of these symptoms of hypothyroidism in women: chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness, coma, disorientation and severe agitation.
Those suffering from a severe case of an enlarged thyroid gland called goiter must seek immediate treatment for the following symptoms: shortness of breath accompanied by a whistling sound in the neck when breathing, very painful thyroid gland that can make swallowing impossible and a high fever with the thyroid enlargement.
Diagnosis for hypothyroidism can be done with a simple blood test that could check the body’s levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) in the body. Standard treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement using the synthetic thyrode hormone levothyroxine.
It is an oral medication that aims to restore the body’s thyroid hormones to normal levels. Improvement in the symptoms of hypothyroidism in women can be noticed after one week of taking the drug. Patients feel less fatigued and the weight gain may be reversed. Levothyroxine treatment usually is lifetime but it is necessary to see a doctor at least once a year for adjustments on the dosage of the medicine which will depend on the patients’ current THS levels.
Like in any medical condition, early diagnosis and treatment is important for hypothyroidism to prevent it from progressing to life threatening levels.