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10 Warning Signs Of Thyroid Dysfunction

By Dr PIYUSH LODHA
Last updated on: June 06, 2024 17:25 IST
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Inability to fall asleep at night, frequent bouts of insomnia or waking up in the middle of the night are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism, warns Dr Piyush Lodha, diabetologist and general physician at Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.

  • Health-related questions? Ask rediff Health Gurus HERE.

Signs of thyroidism in women

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pexels.com

The thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, energy levels and overall bodily functions.

For women, thyroid health is particularly significant as thyroid dysfunction can impact various aspects of their lives, from fertility to mental health.

Recognising the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction early on can help in seeking timely medical intervention and managing the condition effectively.

Hyperthyroidism: When The Thyroid Is Overactive

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone.

This accelerates the body's metabolism, leading to a range of symptoms that can be distressing if not managed properly.

A few symptoms of hyperthyroidism are listed below.

1. Unexplained weight loss

When thyroid is overactive, women may notice a significant drop in weight despite having a normal or increased appetite.

2. Rapid or irregular heartbeat 

Do not ignore palpitations, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Any irregular functioning of the heart can be a warning.

3. Increased sweating and sensitivity to heat

While it is normal for individuals to sweat under heat or after a rigorous workout, excessive and unexplained sweating and intolerance to heat are common signs of hyperthyroidism.

4. Nervousness and anxiety

If you experience unusual anxiety, irritability or nervousness without any clear trigger, you must visit a gynaecologist or test your thyroid levels.

5. Tremors

Small shakes or tremors in the hands and fingers may also be indicative of an overactive thyroid.

6. Fatigue and muscle weakness

Hyperactivity and restless behaviour are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, despite feeling hyperactive, there are times when women may also feel tired and weak, particularly in the muscles. This is again, a red flag of thyroid dysfunction.

7. Difficulty sleeping

Inability to fall asleep at night, frequent bouts of insomnia or waking up in the middle of the night are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

8. Changes in menstrual patterns

If your menstrual cycle is irregular, it is time to check your thyroid.

Light or infrequent menstrual periods or, in some cases, skipped periods are telltale signs of thyroid dysfunction.

Hypothyroidism: When The Thyroid Is Underactive

Conversely, hypothyroidism is characterised by an underactive thyroid that doesn't produce enough of the thyroid hormone.

This condition slows down the body's metabolic processes and leads to various symptoms that can often be mistaken for other health issues.

A few symptoms of hypothyroidism are listed below:

1. Unexplained weight gain

If you have been maintaining a diet and exercise regimen and are yet gaining weight, it is possible that you could have hypothyroidism.

2. Fatigue and lethargy

If you are always feeling tired and drowsy, it is a red flag.

Persistent tiredness or a general sense of sluggishness is not a healthy sign.

3. Cold sensitivity

While sensitivity to heat is a symptom of hyperthyroidism, an unusually high sensitivity to cold temperatures is a symptom of hypothyroidism.

4. Dry skin and hair

In hypothyroidism, individuals may complain of extremely dry skin and hair.

It is possible that moisturisers might not work and your hair could become brittle and lifeless.

5. Joint and muscle pain

Aching or stiffness in joints and muscles may also indicate hypothyroidism.

6. Depression and memory issues 

In hypothyroidism, individuals may experience a tendency towards feeling depressed or complain of poor memory issues.

7. Constipation

Slower metabolic processes can lead to digestive issues, primarily constipation.

8. Menstrual irregularities

Heavy or irregular menstrual periods are common in individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

How To Test For Thyroidism

Given that thyroid dysfunction can present through such a wide array of symptoms, it's vital to pay attention to one’s body and seek medical advice when these signs surface.

Typically, a simple blood test measuring levels of the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free T4 and sometimes T3 can help diagnose thyroid issues.

You can repeat the tests over a period of time following the advice of your doctor.

Awareness is the first step towards effective management and treatment of the thyroid disease.

Women need to recognise the potential signs of thyroid dysfunction and consult with their doctors to rule out or confirm any thyroid-related issues.

Early detection and appropriate treatment can markedly improve quality of life, so staying informed and proactive is essential.

By keeping an eye out for these symptoms and understanding their implications, women can take charge of their thyroid health and ensure they receive the care they need promptly.

  • Health-related questions? Ask rediff Health Gurus HERE.

signs of thyroid dysfunction in women


Disclaimer: All content and media herein is written and published online for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It should not be relied on as your only source for advice.

Please always seek the guidance of your doctor or a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Do not ever disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read herein.

If you believe you may have a medical or mental health emergency, please call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital, or call emergency services or emergency helplines immediately. If you choose to rely on any information provided herein, you do so solely at your own risk.

Opinions expressed herein cannot necessarily provide advice to fit the exact specifics of the issues of the person requesting advice.


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