What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Women?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that affects mostly women, and to be more specific women are 6-8 times more likely to develop hyperthyroidism, compared to men. The number of occurrences of this disease has grown dramatically recently because of the stressful life and due to some environmental factors favoring it, like pollution pesticides etc.. It is hard to diagnose hyperthyroidism in women because its symptoms may mimic the symptoms of many other diseases like menopause symptoms for example, thus the treatments should be tailored considering the specific symptoms of the patient.
The causes of hyperthyroidism
The secretion of thyroid hormones has multiple effects on the entire organism and it is managed by pituitary gland, the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands. They all work together to create the optimum thyroid balance for the organism. These hormones influence the activity of the heart, brain and the overall metabolism. Also, the energy consumption of the body and digestion processes are controlled by thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones facilitate the action of other hormones, with indirect effect on the bones and skin cells. For the newborn, the thyroid gland stimulates the growth and the formation of skeleton and brain.
So, what are the symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Women
The excess of thyroid hormones is characterized by many symptoms, which manifest on all different body levels:
- Palpitations and an accelerated pulse. These hyperthyroidism symptoms may lead to nervousness and agitation, insomnia, and sweating, sometimes in severe forms. If arrhythmia or tachycardia (irregular heart beat) is left untreated for a long time it may create serious heart complications.
- Insomnia, restlessness, lack of concentration and feeling of being “hot”, accompanied sometimes with “hot flashes” during the night are also symptoms of hyperthyroidism. If these symptoms are considered or brought to the physician’s attention separately, they may not be necessarily diagnosed as hyperthyroidism symptoms on time and left untreated. This is especially true for women in their menopause years where similar symptoms are present due to natural hormonal changes.
- Despite of the increased appetite, many women may lose significant amount of weight, which initially is considered a positive sign, until they start to lose energy and feel exhausted. The loss of weight in this case is due to the increased metabolism in the whole system.
- The skin is warm, characterized with an increased perspiration and often referred as a “velvet” skin.
- Body shaking, especially legs and arms, sometimes uncontrollably, which creates the impression of nervousness and agitation. Muscular crams may appear as well, especially during the night.
- Irritability, emotional problems and mental instability are some other symptoms of hyperthyroidism in women. Women with hyperthyroidism often “cry for no reason” and they are emotionally very sensitive. Sometimes have the feeling that the whole world is “against them”, they feel misunderstood and misjudged by family members and friends, who do not understand what is going on with this otherwise “normal person”.
These are some of the symptoms, however, different women may have different set of symptoms which may be difficult to group and identify as a “thyroid problem” by physicians. Hyperthyroidism problems in men are similar, when it comes to the physical symptomatology. The mental symptoms can be expressed quite differently, as it is not very socially acceptable for men to “cry” or be weak. However, they may experience emotional disturbances on other levels.
Why women suffer from hyperthyroid problems?
The causes of hyperthyroidism can be many and cannot be explained in one sentence. Hyperthyroidism in women can be caused by enlargement of the thyroid gland, inflammation of the thyroid gland known as thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, thyroid goiter or autoimmune disorders like Graves’ disease (known also as Graves’- Basedow disease). The autoimmune system, in this case, attacks the thyroid gland, wrongly identifying it as an “invader” and generates antibodies that affect the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. These thyroid antibodies also affect the eyes and create conditions for the development of Thyroid eye disease (Graves’ eye disease) which manifests in increased of eyeball volume, feeling of having “sand in the eyes”, sensitivity to light, blurry and double vision and enlargement of the eye and the eye socket.
Another cause for hyperthyroidism is the presence of solid nodular formations in the gland (thyroid nodules), which could be malignant or benign. The increased quantities of thyroid hormones may also form what is called toxic adenomas. If the hyperthyroidism condition is caused by a single adenoma, the affection is known as the “Toxic Plummer adenoma” (named after the American physician Henry Plummer). If there are several adenomas in the gland, the condition is called multi- modular adenomas. This condition appears for the eldest, usually predominant for women, and the treatments needed to cure this disease are complex.
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