How Do Doctors Diagnose Hypothyroidism
Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. A hypothyroidism diagnosis cant be based on symptoms alone because many of its symptoms are the same as those of other diseases.1 Thats why your doctor may use several thyroid blood tests and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and find its cause.
Because hypothyroidism can cause fertility problems, women who have trouble getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.
Seek A Solid Diagnosis
While doctors continue to debate what comprises normal thyroid levels, some laboratories will still stamp a particular TSH reading “high,” while another calls the same reading as “normal.” Weiss contends that the best diagnosis is one that takes into account not only the patient’s blood test results, but a full personal history of symptoms and risk factors for hypo or hyperthyroidism.
Risk factors for thyroid disease include:
- Diabetes or another autoimmune disorder
- A history of radiation treatment to the thyroid area
- A family history of thyroid disorder
- Hormonal changes, such as those that occur in pregnancy or menopause
- Gender: Women constitute 80 percent of all thyroid cases.
- Age: Incidence of hypothyroidism is higher in menopausal women than in very young women.
A clinical exam is important, too, as the physician looks for physical signs of thyroid problems, such as abnormalities in the appearance of the eyelids.
This is the symptom that first flagged Clement’s doctor to suspect hyperthyroidism. The doctor will palpate, or feel, your thyroid, looking for enlargement or thyroid nodules .
In addition to drawing blood, your doctor may also order an ultrasound exam of your thyroid to look for irregularities.
It is generally only after the doctor has conducted a full exam that a diagnosis can be made and treatment started.
What Are Common Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Women
Hypothyroidism has many different causes. In the U.S., the most common cause is an autoimmune disease called Hashimotos thyroiditis in which immune cells attack the thyroid gland and prevent it from doing its job.
Around the world, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is too little iodine in our diets, since our thyroid glands need iodine to work properly. Some other less common causes of hypothyroidism include previous surgery or radiation treatment, cancer, and certain medications .
Having low thyroid hormone levels can result in many different types of symptoms. Here, well discuss some of the most common symptoms in women.
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Symptoms Of Thyroid Problems In Females
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The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ situated at the base of the neck. It releases certain hormones that regulate the metabolism of an individual. The thyroid hormone controls a number of vital body activities such as breathing, body weight, heart rate, muscle strength, body temperature, menstrual cycles, cholesterol levels, etc. The thyroid gland is an essential element of the endocrine system. It produces, stores and releases the thyroid hormones into the circulatory system to make them reach each and every cell of the body. Iodine, a component present in salt and many other food products is necessary for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland and the production of its hormones. The levels of T3 and T4 must not be either too high or too low. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland maintains the balance of T3 and T4 hormones in the body.
The condition of hyperthyroidism has an overactive thyroid gland that produces thyroid hormone in excess, more than what the body requires. This accelerates many body functions such as heart rate and metabolism. Hyperthyroidism is most commonly caused by Graves disease. In this disease, problems are associated with the patients immune system.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
When Should Women Talk To A Doctor About Thyroid Disease
The American Thyroid Association states that as many as 60% of people with thyroid conditions do not realize that they have a problem. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of thyroid disease, such as inexplicable fatigue, dry skin, puffy face, or unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
Thyroid disease can cause many different symptoms: weight loss or weight gain, increased heart rate or decreased heart rate, fatigue or restlessness. This can make it difficult to identify thyroid disorders.
Most women do not need to screen for thyroid disease, but regular visits with your doctor can help stay ahead of issues with your thyroid gland. Your doctor may recommend a TSH blood test to learn more about your thyroid health.
Make sure that you share any symptoms or changes in your health with your physician, no matter how insignificant they may seem. The more information that your doctor has, the better quality of care your doctor can provide.
Renaissance Womens Healthcare specializes in comprehensive healthcare for women in all stages of life.
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Thyroid Disease In Women
Thyroid dysfunction is about five to eight times more common in women compared to men however many of them are unaware that they have it. This is because women tend to mistake these symptoms for other conditions or may often overlook. For instance, women are more likely to develop thyroid disorders followed by childbirth. Some of the commonly experienced symptoms during this period include depression and fatigue, which are also present in various other thyroid conditions. It has been reported by the American Thyroid Association that more than half of the cases affected by thyroid disorders may be undiagnosed. The thyroid symptoms usually vary depending on a womans age, underlying condition and severity of the thyroid condition. Read on to learn the different types and symptoms of thyroid problems that affect women.
Thyroid Conditions Can Be Difficult To Diagnose
While a simple blood test can easily determine how much thyroid hormone you have in your blood, doctors often don’t think to check TSH or other thyroid levels since the symptoms of a thyroid problem can mimic the symptoms of many other conditions.
Patients may have a variety of illnesses that can all cause fatigue and brittle hair, says Stuart M. Weiss, MD, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at New York University in New York City. But unless the physician gets the thyroid numbers to match the diagnosis, its difficult to blame the thyroid.
What makes matters worse is that doctors dont always agree on how to read thyroid-related blood test results.
Until the last six or seven years, doctors generally agreed that a TSH level of 0.5 to 5.0 was normal, and that anybody with those levels of TSH wouldnt be considered to have a malfunctioning thyroid.
But some endocrinologists worried that this broad interpretation of results meant that people with thyroid disorders were going undiagnosed and untreated. This includes a subset of thyroid patients who are said to have subclinical thyroid disorder, which generally means they appear to have no, or few, symptoms of hypothyroidism. Their T3 and T4 levels are normal, but their TSH levels are higher than normal.
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What Is A Goiter
A goiter is an unusually enlarged thyroid gland. It may happen only for a short time and may go away on its own without treatment. Or it could be a symptom of another thyroid disease that requires treatment. goiter is more common in women than in men and especially in women before menopause.
Some common causes of goiter include:
Usually, the only symptom of a goiter is a swelling in your neck. It may be large enough that you can see it or feel the lump with your hand. A very large goiter can also cause a tight feeling in your throat, coughing, or problems swallowing or breathing.
Your doctor will do to see if it is caused by another thyroid disease.
Depression And Mood Changes
Depression and other mood disorders, including anxiety, have been linked to hypothyroidism, although we dont know exactly why theyre linked. Up to 69% of people with hypothyroidism experience depression, and up to 60% experience anxiety. In general, women are more likely than men to experience depression and anxiety. People with hypothyroidism can also show other mental changes, like difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and slowed thinking.
Some researchers suggest that thyroid hormones are involved in how neurons grow and communicate with each other. They may also influence levels of certain neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain, that may be involved in depression. For people who have depression due to hypothyroidism, treating the thyroid can improve depression symptoms.
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Changes In Menstrual Cycle Or Sexual Performance
Hormonal changes are closely linked to sexual function. If you find that your period is becoming irregular, heavier, or more painful than before, or if you are experiencing stronger emotional symptoms tied to PMS, your thyroid might be the cause.
You might also experience difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment. If you are having difficulty with libido or achieving orgasm or if you cannot maintain an erection, you could also be struggling with a thyroid-related symptom.
While these are uncomfortable issues to talk about, they should absolutely be addressed with us to rule out not only thyroid trouble but also anything else that might quietly be causing these issues.
Sensitive Skin And Skin Discoloration
Thyroid hormones also influence the quality of your skin in a variety of ways. With hyperthyroidism, you may notice itchy and dry patches of skin.
Your face may feel softer and swollen. You may even notice swelling around your fingertips. Other symptoms include darkening of the skin, rashes, lumps, and reddish spots.
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What Is Thyroid Disease
Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Using energy too quickly will do more than make you tired it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous. On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.
These two main disorders can be caused by a variety of conditions. They can also be passed down through families .
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism
At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
- Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
- Eating more than usual
- Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
- Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
- Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation
Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for , a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.
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Getting A Diagnosis And Treatment
Together with a physical exam and medical history, diagnostic tests are necessary to determine if you have a thyroid problem.
Your doctor may order blood tests to detect the levels of the hormones TSH, T4 and T3 in your blood, which can indicate hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. You may also need to take a thyroid antibody blood test, which can help diagnose underlying autoimmune diseases that can cause hormonal imbalances.
Some people may also need an ultrasound. This scan uses sound waves to take pictures of the thyroid gland and can identify thyroid nodules that may be affecting thyroid function.
If you are diagnosed with a thyroid problem, know that there are treatments available. Many people take medications to balance their hormones, while some may need thyroid surgery or radioiodine therapy. Being proactive is critical to your thyroid health, so share your concerns, ask questions and partner with your care team to find a treatment plan that works for you.
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Types Of Thyroid Diseases
The malfunction of thyroid gland can occur due to the following one of three ways:
An overactive thyroid releases too much of TH,resulting in a condition called as hyperthyroidism.
An underactive thyroid can can release too little TH, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism.
Over-growth of thyroid tissue can result in the formation of a small lump in the portion part of a gland.
Majority of these nodules are benign however some of these nodules tend to be malignant .
According to the American Thyroid Association, it has been estimated that about cancerous nodules have relatively low incidence rate as less than 1 in 10 thyroid nodules are cancerous however, currently, thyroid cancer is the rapidly developing cancer in women.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Thyroid Surgery
It will take your body a few weeks to recover after your thyroid is surgically removed . During this time you should avoid a few things, including:
- Submerging your incision under water.
- Lifting an object thats heavier than 15 pounds.
- Doing more than light exercise.
This generally lasts for about two weeks. After that, you can return to your normal activities.
If Part Of My Thyroid Is Surgically Removed Will The Other Part Be Able To Make Enough Thyroid Hormones To Keep Me Off Of Medication
Sometimes, your surgeon may be able to remove part of your thyroid and leave the other part so that it can continue to create and release thyroid hormones. This is most likely in situations where you have a nodule thats causing your thyroid problem. About 75% of people who have only one side of the thyroid removed are able to make enough thyroid hormone after surgery without hormone replacement therapy.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease
Thyroid disease affects thyroid hormone production it may cause your body to produce too much thyroid hormone or not enough. The effect that the disease has on your body depends on how the disease affects your hormone production.
With hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This may result in decreased metabolism, slower heart rate, and additional symptoms:
- feeling cold when others do not feel cold
- muscle fatigue
- diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements
What Women Need To Know About Thyroid Disease
According to the American Thyroid Association, women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid disease more than 12 percent of women will develop a thyroid disorder during their lifetime.
Because women are more likely to develop thyroid disease, its especially important for women to know what causes thyroid problems, how to identify that theres an issue, and when to talk to a doctor for thyroid disorders.
Pregnancy And Thyroid Conditions
In pregnant women, or those with a known thyroid condition thyroid issues should be discussed with your obstetrician. While pregnancy itself does not cause thyroid disease, the ramped-up hormone production in pregnancy can impact the thyroid.
After pregnancy, many women are noted to develop thyroid dysfunction. These women often will have circulating antibodies against the thyroid gland.
The thyroid can also enlarge during pregnancy due to the fact that iodine can be expelled through the urine at a greater rate than normal, which causes the thyroid gland to enlarge to compensate.
Surgery For Thyroid Disorders
Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don’t work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.
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Muscle Aches And Trouble Swallowing
Muscle aches throughout the body are sometimes associated with abnormal thyroid levels. If your muscle aches have recently onset without any other obvious causes, a thyroid disorder is one likely cause. Rarely, muscle breakdown can also occur. If you find that you are unable to build toned muscle, reach out to your physician.
On a similar vein, because the thyroid is located in the neck, the neck muscles are usually the first to experience these symptoms. This includes the muscles associated with swallowing. If you are struggling to swallow, this could be another signs of thyroid problems.
What Causes An Overactive Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is found in the neck. It produces hormones that are released into the bloodstream to control the body’s growth and metabolism. These hormones are called thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
They affect processes such as heart rate and body temperature, and help convert food into energy to keep the body going.
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine or triiodothyronine, which speeds up the body’s metabolism.
There are several possible underlying causes, the most common being Graves’ disease, in which the body’s immune system targets the thyroid gland and causes it to produce too much of the thyroid hormones.
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