Thyroid Problems In Women

Are Not Uncommon

By: - Women's Issues - May 15, 2011
thyroid problems in women

A small gland, located at the base of the neck a bit below the Adam’s apple and known as the thyroid gland, can cause big problems if there is a malfunction.

For whatever reason, thyroid problems in women far outpace similar problems in men.

The thyroid gland produces two main hormones dubbed T3 and T4. These hormones control the body’s metabolism which includes such factors as how fast your heart beats and how fast your body burns calories.

According to a U.S. government agency, there are six kinds of thyroid problems in women – disorders that cause hyperthyroidism, disorders that cause hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, and goiter.

When talking about thyroid problems, people will usually be referring to either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, involves a thyroid gland that is producing more thyroid hormones than the body needs.

The most common cause of this condition is Graves’ disease which makes the immune system stimulate the thyroid. This results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones.

Generally, symptoms of thyroid problems related to hyperthyroidism include the following – weight loss, eating more than usual, rapid or irregular heart beat, anxiety, irritability, sleep problems, trembling in fingers and hands, sweating, sensitivity to heat, muscle weakness, more frequent bowel movements, and less frequent menstrual periods with a lighter than normal menstrual flow.

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, involves a thyroid gland that is not producing sufficient thyroid hormones.

In the United States, the most common cause of this condition is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which makes the immune system attack the thyroid.

The symptoms of thyroid problems associated with an underactive thyroid include the following – weight gain, sensitivity to cold, constipation, muscle weakness, joint or muscle pain, depression, fatigue, pale dry skin, puffy face, hoarse voice, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Thyroid nodules involve a swelling in one section of the thyroid gland.

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland.

A goiter is an abnormally enlarged thyroid gland.

Thyroid cancer often does not cause symptoms of thyroid problems.

Making A Diagnosis

Thyroid problems in women may be difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are similar to those linked to many other health issues.

A doctor will first take a comprehensive medical history. As symptoms warrant, this may be followed by various tests.

A blood test may be done to establish the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Additional blood tests can determine T3 and T4 levels, and also detect an immune system problem.

A radioactive iodine uptake test involves swallowing a liquid or capsule containing a small dose of radioactive iodine. The thyroid is then tested to determine the level of radioactive iodine in the gland.

A thyroid scan also involves swallowing the same liquid or capsule. Then a camera will take an image of your thyroid that is projected on a computer screen.

Other tests may include a thyroid fine needle biopsy and thyroid ultrasound.

As with many health issues, if you suspect you may have a problem then don’t delay in visiting your doctor.

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