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5 Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction in Women

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  • Written By: Erin Wallner
5 Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction in Women

Thyroid dysfunction is a common issue, especially in women. Epidemiologic data suggest that some degree of thyroid dysfunction affects up to 10% of the population, with the disease being 5-8 times more common in women. Specifically, thyroid levels that are too low or too high can negatively impact your health in various ways and potentially indicate the presence of something more serious. That's why diagnosing these issues is essential as soon as possible.

However, thyroid dysfunction isn't like having a cold or the flu — it doesn't necessarily announce itself in an identifiable way. With that in mind, here are some of the most common thyroid hormone imbalance symptoms that can help you see if your thyroid is not healthy and put you on the path to healing.

5 Common Indicators of Thyroid Issues

These are some of the most common indicators of thyroid issues in women:

  • Weight Fluctuation

Suppose you suddenly gain or lose weight and can't figure out why. Your thyroid may be to blame. Hypothyroidism — the term for a thyroid that's underperforming — can lower metabolism and lead to weight gain. Meanwhile, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can speed up metabolism and lead to sometimes rapid, unexplained weight loss.

In the case of hypothyroidism, weight gain may be easier to overlook and may be as simple as the inability to lose weight despite trying. If you're puzzling over a weight change, don't dismiss it — primarily if it's occurring alongside other possible symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.

  • A Change in Heart Rate

UF Health St. JohnsPrimary Care Physician, Dr. Looney Di, says, “The hormones your thyroid generates affect most bodily functions — including how your heart beats. Higher thyroid activity? Faster heart rate. Lower thyroid activity? Slower heart rate. Especially with hyperthyroidism, you may experience heart palpitations or racing heart sensation that occurs out of proportion to activity.

Along with fluctuations in heart rate, you may note that you feel dizzy or unsteady at times and experience changes in your blood pressure or decreased exercise tolerance.”

  • Loss of Hair

Hair loss is one of the more common signs of hypothyroidism. Sometimes, the hair on your scalp is thinning, and on your outer eyebrows.

Your hair can be an excellent indicator of a problem with your thyroid in several ways. Even if you aren't losing your hair, you may notice that it's become dry and brittle or begun to grow more slowly.

  • Changes in Mood

It should come as no surprise that your hormones can affect your mood. That means if your thyroid is out of whack, your mood may be too. Depression can occur if significant hypothyroidism is left untreated for an extended period of time. Conversely, women with hyperthyroidism may notice they suddenly feel more anxious and nervous without other explanation.

Just changes in mood alone are not enough to diagnose a thyroid issue. Partially this has to do with the fact that many different things can cause mood changes. However, a worrying shift in mood warrants a visit to the doctor in any case. If this change in mood coincides with other signs associated with thyroid dysfunction, it may help guide your doctor in the right direction regarding a diagnosis.

  • Fatigue and Poor Temperature Regulation

If you're always tired and seem to have cold hands and feet, thyroid dysfunction should be ruled out. Excessive fatigue and sensitivity to low temperatures are prevalent symptoms of hypothyroidism and often go together. Don't write off constant tiredness or needing an extra blanket as run-of-the-mill issues, especially if these are new or worsening and occur in the context of other symptoms of thyroid disease.

You may have noticed a pattern in the indicators we've covered: overactive thyroids tend to push other bodily functions into overdrive, while underperforming thyroids slow things down. For busy women, the symptoms above, in addition to changes in menstrual cycles, bowel habits, sleep habits, appetite, and mood, can easily be overlooked. But if you have any concerns about your thyroid health or are looking for answers to other common questions, such as, "Can low thyroid levels cause headaches?"Don't hesitate to contact your local health care provider today.