The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that has the potential to affect every aspect of the body’s metabolism.
This is also the reason why the symptoms associated with thyroid trouble can be so varied and sometimes difficult to detect.
Women are genetically much more prone to developing thyroid issues as compared to men, with some studies estimating that one out of every eight women will develop an imbalance of the thyroid hormones during their life time.
So what are some of the things that should trigger an alarm in your head?
1. Weight Change
An increase in the amount of thyroid hormone in the body will result in an unexplained weight loss, which, as strange as it may sound, is a bad thing! This weight loss will happen despite a noticeable increase in the appetite.
The opposite will occur if there is a decrease in the amount of thyroid hormones being produced. You will find yourself gaining weight even though your diet may not have increased by much or have not changed at all.
2. Mood Swings
Women whose thyroid hormones are being produced in lesser quantities will have a tendency to feel sad, depressed while those with an excess of thyroid hormones in their body will find themselves over excited, almost maniacally happy over small things. These symptoms are exaggerated in people who tend to be more emotional than others in general.
3. Altered Menstrual Periods
The amount of menstrual bleeding that a person goes through normally will be altered. You might notice a much lighter flow of blood indicating hypothyroidism or a much heavier flow of blood indicating hyperthyroidism. The number of days the periods last also becomes erratic.
For women who are trying to get pregnant, these disturbances can make it difficult to conceive.
4. Skin Changes
Changes in the level of the thyroid glands affect your body’s thermostat as well. You might find yourself sweating more than usual and feeling unusually warm or the opposite where you end up feeling cold even when everyone else around you is comfortable.
The texture of your skin can also change and become dry, cracked and prone to a lot of breakouts.
5. Swelling in the neck
This is one symptom that accompanies both an increase and a decrease in the amount of thyroid hormones being produced. This swelling is also referred to as goitre.
Women who are suffering from hyperthyroidism have an increase in heart rate. This is why they find themselves suffering from palpitations quite often. The decrease in heart rate that comes with hypothyroidism is a lot more difficult to ascertain on your own, however, it will be apparent to a doctor immediately.
7. Reduced Mental Capacity
This is again one of those symptoms that can be a little difficult to pick upon initially, after all who among us is not prone to a little forgetfulness? A reduced capacity for mentally challenging tasks, memory loss and a general increase in the time taken to process things are all symptoms that indicate a decrease in the thyroid activity.
Patients often come to the doctor worrying that they are suffering from thyroid deficiency when they find themselves missing appointments or forgetting names, however, in most cases, all that is required is a little stress release and rest.
8. Altered Bowel movements
A tendency to remain constipated can be due to many things including a low level of thyroid hormones. The doctor may choose to run a few tests, alter your diet and add a few supplements to see how you respond before diagnosing a thyroid deficiency.
The opposite happens in hyperthyroidism where affected individuals have bowel movements more frequently than normal and even diarrhoea.
Tremors in the hands, a difficulty in holding them steady and trouble concentrating are also associated with an increase in the amount of thyroid hormones being produced in the body. These tremors are usually associated with loss of strength and muscle tone as well.
If you are suffering from a combination of the above mentioned symptoms, then it is advisable that you get a check up done to rule out or identify any underlying disorders that you might have. A lot of the times, these symptoms get mistaken as menopause (as if women did not have enough hormonal changes to worry about already!) and ignored until the physiological signs start becoming more severe.
Once it has been determined that an individual is suffering from thyroid dysfunction, further tests are usually conducted to determine why this discrepancy is occurring.
The root cause may need to be treated alongside symptomatic alleviation to provide long term relief to the patient.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.