Hypothyroidism is a condition in which not enough thyroid hormone is made. This can lead to numerous metabolic and organic disorders. Hypothyroidism symptoms in women are of particular importance since the disorder occurs more frequently in this gender. The main cause is iodine deficiency and this can affect the quantity of the hormones that need this element for their structure.
Hypothyroidism can develop at a different age. Sometimes it starts in the early postpartum (right after childbirth) period. This is due to the fact that during childbirth, stress and excessive bleeding result in the necrosis of anterior pituitary, which leads to decreased synthesis of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which in turn affects the thyroid gland. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It develops after the age of 50 and is characterized by the immune malfunction of the thyroid gland, increasing of its size and decrease of hormone synthesis. Hypothyroidism symptoms in women are similar, but their intensity depends on the severity of the disease.
Main symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Weight gain. Usually associated with fluid retention and decreased metabolism. There is a buildup of protein between cells which contributes to the movement of blood from vessels to tissues. Also hypothyroidism results in slowing down of glomerular filtration in kidneys, which causes improper function of water-salt metabolism in the body. This leads to the retention of water and sodium, which further promotes the formation of edema (swelling). Swelling first occurs on the extremities, then on stomach and face. Women often get examined because of weight gain. They state that even though they eat less (hypothyroidism decreases appetite), they still gain weight.
- Changes in appearance. The skin on the face becomes thick, dry and unresponsive. Facial expressions worsen and eyes change in shape because of the heaviness of upper eyelid. There is increased hair loss. Sometimes eyebrows begin to thin, nails become brittle and hair becomes dry with split ends.
- There are complaints of memory impairment and slowing down of thought processes and speech, and the reaction to the environment is dulled. There is a development of unexplained apathy and depression. Constant sleepiness during the day results in not being able to keep up with usual daily function.
- In addition to the exterior changes, patients complain about heaviness in heart, lowering of blood pressure and slow heart rate. Minor exertions result in shortness of breath.
- There are digestive system issues, like constipation, which arise from decreased intestinal motility and tissue edema of gastrointestinal tract. General state of health worsens due to irregular absorption of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins.
- There is a decreased sex drive, which has a negative effect on family life of the patients. Often patients come to an endocrinologist with only one complaint – infertility. Further examination determines that the cause is hypothyroidism. Reduced number of thyroid hormones leads to inhibition of ovulation and reduced motility of the fallopian tubes, which eventually leads to sterility.
When you notice three or more above mentioned symptoms you should consult a doctor to rule out hypothyroidism. Hormonal and ultrasound examination of thyroid gland will help determine the cause. In advanced stage hypothyroidism leads to irreversible consequences, but with timely visit to a doctor, the treatment is quite easy.