The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland which is located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the trachea and joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue called the isthmus. The thyroid gland is responsible for making the hormones T3 and T4, which act as chemical messengers, travelling through the bloodstream to all the cells and tissues of the body. These thyroid hormones control the speed at which the body works, known as metabolism. They, therefore, affect an individual’s heartbeat, energy levels, body temperature, digestion and even how an individual thinks and feels. An underactive thyroid gland in females and males leads to different symptoms in an overactive thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is surprisingly small for playing so many important roles in the human body, especially in females. Because of this, it is important to have the right amount of thyroid hormones in the body. If there is too little thyroid hormone in the body, the cells work too slowly, and the condition is known as hypothyroidism. But if there are too many thyroid hormones in the body, the cells work too quickly, and the condition is known as hyperthyroidism. The human brain helps to keep the levels in check by measuring the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. If the hormone levels are too low, the pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormones or TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to release more thyroid hormones. If the thyroid levels are too high, then less amount of TSH is released by the pituitary gland. In this way, the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are usually kept in check.
Thyroid disorders can happen to anyone, men, women and children. But the condition is more common in females and becomes more common with age. Therefore, thyroid symptoms are more common in women than in men.
Who is affected by Thyroid Condition?
Thyroid disease can affect anyone of any age. It can be present at the time of birth (typically hypothyroidism), and it can develop gradually as the person age (often after menopause in women). It is estimated that thyroid symptoms are more common in females, which is about eight times more than in men. A person is at a greater risk of developing thyroid conditions if they:
- Have a family history of thyroid disorder.
- Are type 1 diabetic or have other medical conditions like pernicious anaemia, rheumatoid arthritis and turner syndrome.
- Are on a medication that is high in iodine.
- Are older than 60 years of age, especially females.
- Had thyroid treatment in the past or cancer treatment.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disorder
The symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are very wide-ranging in females and males. In hypothyroidism, the body’s metabolism rate slows down, which can lead to various symptoms. In hyperthyroidism, by contrast, the body’s metabolism speeds up, which leads to a very different pattern of symptoms. The symptoms of thyroid in males and females are as follows:
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold at times
- Muscle weakness and aches
- Dry or thinning hair
- A hoarse voice
- Pin & needles in the hands
- Slow speech, movements and thoughts
- Loss of memory and concentration problems
- Low mood and anxiety issues
The symptoms of hypothyroidism in females can also affect normal growth and development in newborn babies and children if not treated properly.
- Weight loss
- Racing heartbeat
- Feeling shaky and sweaty at times
- Feeling uncomfortably hot
- Mood swings and restlessness
- Feeling of anxiety
In addition, hyperthyroidism is often accompanied by an enlargement of the thyroid gland, known as goitre. At times, thyroid disorder symptoms can be confused with other medical conditions due to similar symptoms. If left untreated, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in females and males can include heart disease, depression, infertility, peripheral neuropathy, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to get a diagnosis of thyroid from some of the best endocrinologists in India, even if the symptoms are mild.
Side Effects of Thyroid in Females
The functioning of the thyroid gland has much to do with a female body’s reproductive system, particularly if the thyroid is overactive or underactive. The thyroid symptoms in females must not be taken lightly, and it is imperative to go for a diagnosis and treatment plan. The different stages of the female lifecycle explain the side effects of thyroid in females.
Puberty and Menstruation
Thyroid hormonal imbalances can cause puberty and menstruation to occur abnormally early or late. In addition, abnormal levels of thyroid can lead to heavy or irregular menstrual periods.
An underactive or overactive thyroid gland can affect ovulation. Thyroid irregularities may prevent ovulation from occurring at all.
Pregnancy and Postpartum
Thyroid disorders during pregnancy can harm the fetus and may lead to thyroid issues in the mother after the child’s birth, such as postpartum thyroiditis.
Thyroid disorders can cause the early onset of menopause before age 40 or in the early 40s.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Thyroid
Thyroid disorders are diagnosed by checking the levels of thyroid hormones in the body through blood tests or physical examinations. Depending on the diagnosis, there may be further investigations, such as follow-up blood tests and possibly a thyroid scan or biopsy, to discover the underlying cause. The thyroid treatment is prescribed based on the symptoms, pointing towards an underactive or overactive thyroid gland in females and males.
The main aim of thyroid treatment is to ensure the right thyroid levels in the blood. If the thyroid levels are too low, then synthetic thyroid medication can be recommended to the individual. If the thyroid levels are too high, the healthcare professionals recommend the patients go for anti-thyroid medications to dampen down the overactivity of the thyroid gland. Besides medication, treatment for an overactive thyroid can also include surgery, which removes some or all of the thyroid gland, which may also be recommended for goitre or for nodules. In both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in females and males, the early symptoms must not be ignored so that a timely treatment plan can be prescribed.
Whatever treatment is recommended to an individual, or if no treatment is recommended at the moment, it is important to have regular blood tests so that the doctor can monitor the thyroid function and adjust the dosage if needed. This monitoring is particularly important during pregnancy if thyroid symptoms are noticeable. It is important to take the prescribed medication regularly, without a miss and lead a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. An individual can look out for some of the top private hospitals in India that offer them a great way to keep their thyroid levels in check.