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Every one in eight women develops some kind of thyroid disorder during her life. Scarily enough, you might have subtle signs of thyroid problems but don’t even realize it! Women often dismiss them as nothing, which ultimately, causes complications later on.
Throughout the world, January is known as Thyroid Awareness Month. Hence, in accordance, I decided to share some significant high-risk symptoms of thyroid disease that you shouldn’t ignore.
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- What is Thyroid Disease?
- What Are the Main Causes of Thyroid Problems in Females?
- What Happens During Thyroid Issues in Pregnancy?
- How to Treat Thyroid Disease?
- Subtle Signs of Thyroid Problems
- 1. Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss
- 2. Feeling Tired, Sluggish, or Depressed
- 3. Muscle Aches and Joint Pain
- 4. Dry Skin and Hair Loss
- 5. Facial and Neck Swelling
- 6. Changes in Menstruation
- 7. Increased Sensitivity to Cold or Heat
- 8. Difficulty with Concentration
- 9. Constipation or Diarrhea
- 10. Irregular Heart Rate
- How to Prevent Thyroid Disorders?
What is Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease is a glandular disorder that affects the thyroid gland. It’s shaped like a butterfly and located in the lower front of the neck. The disease enlarges the thyroid gland, creating a protuberance called a goiter. As a result, it may lead to overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones.
Typically, the function of the thyroid is to ensure all body processes go on smoothly. However, thyroid issues lead to various hormonal imbalances and abnormalities.
What Are the Main Causes of Thyroid Problems in Females?
Thyroid disease is one of the most common endocrine disorders and affects more women than men. Although most thyroid disorders are genetic, sometimes nutritional deficiencies can also play a role.
Let’s go through some factors that might increase the risk of thyroid problems in women:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune reaction that destroys cells in the gland. This impacts the normal production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones, both of which are critical thyroid hormones in females.
⚠️ Low or high iodine
⚠️ Postpartum thyroiditis
⚠️ Hashimotos thyroiditis
⚠️ Genetic conditions
- Postpartum Thyroiditis:
This condition occurs in women after giving birth. It may be caused by changes in hormone levels after delivery. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and reproductive issues.
- Iodine Deficiency:
Iodine deficiency or lack of iodine in the body is yet another condition that might develop signs of thyroid problems. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones and low levels can lead to hypothyroidism.
- Iodine Excess:
In some cases, excess iodine in the system can lead to another thyroid hormone imbalance called hyperthyroidism.
- Genetic Thyroid Gland Disorder:
Almost 2 to 5% of people are born with an underdeveloped thyroid. Thus, they have hereditary thyroid disorders caused by two missing or mutated genes PAX8 and TSHR. This condition is known as congenital hypothyroidism or thyroid dysgenesis.
- Radiation Exposure:
Intense radiation exposure can also cause hyperthyroidism, thyroid neoplasia, or thyroid dysfunction. It can even develop small nodules or lumps in the gland. If the hormonal cells absorb high amounts of radioactive iodine, you might be at risk of cancer.
There are several ways to treat thyroid disorders with an underactive or overactive thyroid. And most of the time, the treatments are quite successful! But for that, you need to be able to figure out the alarming signs of thyroid problems timely. Otherwise, you might be prone to serious complications.
What Happens During Thyroid Issues in Pregnancy?
Untreated thyroid issues in pregnancy could get worse for both you and your little one. Such babies are prone to intellectual disabilities, premature birth, low birth weight, and even death – in severe cases. Moms-to-be with signs of thyroid problems might experience miscarriage as well.
Up until week 12, your baby needs an abundant thyroid supply during the first trimester of pregnancy. The hormone is passed on through the placenta. However, thyroid disorders in pregnancy can cause preeclampsia. It’s a condition that affects the baby’s source of nourishment aka the placenta.
Doctors usually monitor the thyroid hormones in the first 1 to 2 months of pregnancy and later on, just once every 30 weeks. If you have thyroid disorders, they will likely give you medication.
Additionally, they will keep you under close supervision for about a month to check up on you and your baby’s health.
You should also be prepared for an early delivery as it can diminish serious risks to you or your baby. If you are pregnant and have thyroid problems, talk to your doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
How to Treat Thyroid Disease?
First and foremost, visit a doctor. Discuss your issues with them. They will likely conduct a thorough exam and ask for some blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. Then, they will suggest the best course of action.
It’s also important to immediately start a fast-acting and suitable thyroid supplement. I recommend Zhou Thyroid Support Complex (aff link) for women who’re looking for gluten-free and vegetarian thyroid supplements. It’s rich in iodine and contains essential compounds to boost metabolism and give you an instant jolt of energy!
Subtle Signs of Thyroid Problems
Want to hear some scary facts?
Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from some kind of thyroid dysfunction, but only half of them realize they have it!
Another 12 million suspect that something could be wrong because they experience common signs of thyroid problems. Still, they don’t seek professional consultation from an expert until it gets worse.
#thyroid #womenshealth #hormones
Thus, you need to recognize the early warning signs of thyroid disorder at the right time. It can prevent you and your loved ones from serious health risks.
Following are the subtle symptoms of thyroid issues you need to know about:
1. Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss
Weight gain isn’t always because of dietary habits or limited exercise. Sometimes, a rapid increase in your weight indicates some underlying metabolic or hormonal problems with the thyroid.
Because of hormonal imbalance, the body doesn’t process energy properly, and thus, you might experience a sudden shoot in weight.
On the other hand, unexplained weight loss is also among the warning signs of thyroid problems. It’s often because of hyperactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. It can accelerate your metabolic activities and as a result, you might lose lots of weight within a few weeks.
In either case, you should get it checked out by a professional ASAP!
Read More: 10 best beginner exercises for weight loss
2. Feeling Tired, Sluggish, or Depressed
If your energy levels have been low for a long time and your productivity at work is getting affected, then it may be a symptom of thyroid issues. Sluggishness is one of the main signs of thyroid problems and a huge indicator of hypothyroidism which limits the production of this integral hormone
Similarly, you might feel tired despite getting sufficient sleep. It’s also possible to be unable to sleep well at night and spend most of the hours restlessly. Thyroid hormone imbalance can also make you feel sad and cause depression.
Read more: 6 Amazing Herbal Teas for Sleep
3. Muscle Aches and Joint Pain
Yet another frequent symptom of thyroid disorder is muscle stiffness or aches that radiate to the arms, legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders, or neck. Pain is stronger in the hips and shoulders.
Many people with an underactive thyroid experience a condition known as Hypothyroid myopathy (HM). It occurs in about 30 to 80% of people with signs of thyroid problems and causes severe muscle spasms.
If one side of the body is more affected than the other, it means that the side of the gland is malfunctioning. In case you feel serious muscle aches on both sides, then it’s likely you’re dealing with some kind of autoimmune condition.
4. Dry Skin and Hair Loss
Skin dryness and rapid hair loss could also be the result of thyroid imbalance.
You might notice that your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun and rashes or discoloration appears when you stay outdoors too much. This condition is known as Myxedema and it’s associated with thyroid disorders.
To treat dry skin, you may need to apply special hydrating moisturizers such as the Very Emollient Body Lotion by Alba Botanica (aff link). It’s the perfect hypoallergenic cream for you with a nourishing and unscented formula to treat sensitive regions and rejuvenate your skin.
Additionally, if you suddenly lose your hair in bunches, it could be one of the early warning signs of thyroid problems. Luckily, thyroid hair loss is reversible and you just need to eat a healthy diet and keep your hair safe from harsh chemicals.
Read More: 7 Easy Ways to Deal With Diabetic Hair Loss
5. Facial and Neck Swelling
Swollen neck and face are also symptoms of thyroid issues. The neck swelling is mainly because of goiter. It might move up and down when you attempt to talk or swallow. You might even have difficulty swallowing as a result of painful tightness when you eat or drink. It’ll also be uncomfortable when you look down.
Some people might have visibly bulging eyes because of thyroid eye disease. It occurs when the eye tissues such as eyelids and tear glands become inflamed because of hormonal imbalance. They may also appear reddish.
Face swelling is related to Myxedema or facial rashes (described above). It’s caused by an underactive thyroid gland.
All of these signs of thyroid problems should be taken seriously. Consult your doctor to start treatment soon.
6. Changes in Menstruation
The thyroid hormone directly affects your menstrual cycle. The link between your cycles and the thyroid gland comes from thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) – a critical chemical monitored when you have period problems.
Thus, if you notice sudden changes in your periods, it may be a symptom of thyroid issues.
Women with hypothyroidism often suffer from irregular periods or no periods at all. This condition is called amenorrhea. Others might find that they are bleeding more heavily or the periods last for days. It is known as menorrhagia.
Besides the changes in frequency and duration of your period cycle, you might also experience severe cramps (dysmenorrhea), fatigue, nausea, and dizziness as a result of thyroid disorder.
7. Increased Sensitivity to Cold or Heat
Another symptom that indicates something’s wrong with your thyroid is increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
The thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating your body’s internal temperature. Because of imbalance, the metabolic activity slows down and as a result, the chemical changes to maintain homeostasis get messed up.
Thus, if you feel too cold or too hot and sweaty at odd times – despite regulating the thermostat – these may be signs of thyroid problems. Typically, feeling too cold may be because of hypothyroidism.
8. Difficulty with Concentration
Have you been slacking at work or studies recently? Do you feel unmotivated and unable to focus? Has your productivity reached an all-time low? Do you have difficulty thinking clearly?
If you’ve felt like you can’t think straight for a while, it might be time to get your thyroid checked. Your brain relies on your thyroid gland to produce hormones that regulate your mood, energy level, and ability to concentrate.
You might be suffering from hypothyroidism that affects your ability to think and be active. Some people with hypothyroidism have trouble processing information. They might find it hard to absorb new material or recall details from memory.
These symptoms are very similar to those of depression, fatigue, and fibromyalgia, so it’s often hard to diagnose. Visit a doctor to get the right treatment started soon.
9. Constipation or Diarrhea
Digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation are signs of thyroid problems. In some women, chest pain, anemia, digestive worms, or bacterial infections also indicate low thyroid function.
Constipation is a painful symptom of thyroid disease. Your stools become hard and dry, making bowel movements difficult. You might also poop less than 3 times a week. It often leads to hemorrhoids, which can be uncomfortable. If you notice anything unusual with your digestive system, don’t hesitate to discuss it with a healthcare professional.
10. Irregular Heart Rate
An irregular heart rate (or arrhythmia) is one of the scariest signs of thyroid problems. Although rapid heartbeat is also a silent symptom of heart attack, in some cases it indicates hyperthyroidism. You might feel heart palpitations and shortness of breath. If ignored, it could lead to stroke or heart failure. So don’t ignore it!
How to Prevent Thyroid Disorders?
To ensure good health and avoid the serious symptoms of thyroid problems, you should know how to prevent them.
Let’s go through some tips to stay safe from thyroid disorders:
- Eat a healthy diet. This means avoiding foods that might trigger hormonal imbalance. Avoid refined sugar, processed foods, leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, etc, and even alcohol, as it can develop early signs of thyroid problems.
- Exercise regularly. If it’s too much, you can always go for yoga or some kind of sports like walking, cycling, swimming, etc.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Keep a close eye on your BMI and make sure you stay active as it can help with managing your weight.
- Avoid radiation exposure. If you work in environments with high radiation, either change your department or cubicle, take a leave for a few days, or just quit it entirely. Nothing’s more precious than your health!
- Get regular checkups and take your medicines on time. Don’t stop medication on your own without first consulting your doctor.
I hope you found this article useful and have gained some amazing info on thyroid disorders, the scary signs of thyroid problems, and how to avoid them. Dealing with the thyroid could be tricky at first. But it’s necessary to manage the disease at the right time. Avoid unhealthy habits and make sure you follow your doctor’s advice to balance thyroid hormone.