Women More Likely Than Men to Suffer from Malfunctioning Thyroid
Thyroid disorders affect more than 13 million Americans, most of them women. In fact, it is estimated that one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder.
The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, is one of the body's most important glands. When it does not manufacture and store thyroid hormone (TH) properly, it can cause you to feel nervous or tired, cause weight gain or loss, affect your menstrual flow, cause muscle weakness and impair your memory. It can also cause reproductive problems, such as miscarriage and infertility.
When the thyroid gland malfunctions, it can result in hypothyroidism (releases too little TH) or hyperthyroidism (releases too much TH). Overgrown tissues can also result in small lumps or nodules on the gland, which may be cancerous.
When women suffer from hypothyroidism, symptoms can include fatigue, depression, weight gain, dry or itchy skin, constipation, poor memory, irregular or heavy menstruation, hair loss, muscle aches and more. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness and irritability, weight loss, changes in appetite, insomnia, muscle weakness, trembling hands, shorter menstrual flow and at times, bulging eyes.
Despite these symptoms, more than half of all thyroid conditions remain undiagnosed. In many cases, women confuse their symptoms with other conditions, or fail to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Treatment for hypothyroidism can include taking thyroid hormone replacement drugs or FDA-regulated natural drugs such as desiccated thyroid. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) as well as prescription anti-thyroid drugs. Depending on the results of medical tests, nodules on the thyroid can be left alone or treated with thyroid hormone replacement to shrink them. Malignant nodules can be surgically removed.
Because the symptoms of a thyroid disorder can easily be confused with other conditions, it is important to see your doctor to make sure that this gland is working properly. Return to LEARN MORE