The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly-shaped located in the throat. It plays an important role in the body’s metabolism. An underactive thyroid is one which secretes decreased quantities of thyroid hormones. The condition is referred to as hypothyroidism.
An underactive thyroid affects both men and women, but is more common in women. Hypothyroidism may cause infertility and increase the vulnerability to infections and cardiac conditions. It is therefore very important to know about the symptoms of an underactive thyroid, especially for women. It can help in prompt treatment and prevention of health complications.
Women should always be on the lookout for below listed signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of an underactive thyroid. In case the symptoms are present, you should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and remedial measures.
- An underactive thyroid will result in abnormal sensations of coldness in the hands and feet in all types of weather. Such sensations may be minor or serious and can occur in the feet or hands, or both.
- There may be loss of hearing and blurry vision. These symptoms may have a sudden onset or may occur gradually over a period of time.
- Patients may put on weight despite a noticeable loss in the appetite. The eating habits may also be erratic, which can result in decreased levels of energy, lethargy, constipation, as well as a general feeling of exhaustion and fatigue.
- There may be mood swings or emotional changes without any known cause. A number of women suffering from an underactive thyroid may also have difficulties in sleeping, which in turn can result in stress, frayed nerves, and short tempers.
- Women with an underactive thyroid may also experience a number of other symptoms. There may be a noticeable change in their sex drive or menstrual cycles. The muscles and joints may hurt or experience weakness without any explainable cause. The sound of voice may alter and become hoarser. The skin may become coarse and dry along with a pale complexion. Intellectual abilities may suffer resulting in forgetfulness and memory loss.
- Destruction of the thyroid gland during radiotherapy or its surgical removal to cure hyperthyroidism can cause underactive thyroid symptoms in women.
- Conditions like chronic hepatitis, and diabetes produce anti-thyroid antibodies which results in an underactive thyroid. One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism in American women is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Anomalies of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus, and intake of drugs like lithium can also cause an underactive thyroid in women.
- Congenital hypothyroidism can be detected with early screening procedures.
- Underactive thyroid symptoms in women are treated with hormone replacement therapy. The hormones may be given in the form of pills that have to be taken orally.
- The hormone therapy will continue for the lifetime of the patient.
- The doctor will advise on the daily dosage which has to be strictly adhered to. Lower or higher than recommended dosage can result in health complications.