Thyroid, a gland in the front of your neck, controls your metabolism and determines how efficiently your body can turn food into energy. It also affects your bones, muscles, heart and cholesterol. Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid gland is super active and is making too much thyroid hormone. Too much of thyroid hormone can affect you in so many ways, especially for women. So, it is important to look for hyperthyroidism symptoms in women and consult your healthcare provider for advice for early treatment.
Hyperthyroidism Symptoms in Women
It is important to understand that hyperthyroid symptoms in women aren't the same for everyone. It usually depends on how active your gland is and how much hormone it is making. Your age and the duration for which you've had this condition will have an impact on what symptoms you experience.
It is usually difficult for your healthcare provider to diagnose this condition because hyperthyroidism symptoms in women can mimic other health problems as well. Some of the most common signs include:
- Sudden weight loss, even when you're not doing anything to lose or gain weight
- Irregular heartbeat or rapid heartbeat with more than 100 beats a minute
- Increased appetite
- Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
- Sweating and increased sensitivity to heat
- Trembling in your fingers and hands
- Frequent bowel movements
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Brittle hair with thin skin
- Irregular menstrual cycles or not having periods at all
- An enlarged thyroid gland
Specific Symptoms of Graves' Disease
When Graves' disease is the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism, you may expect the following symptoms.
- Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
- Nails become thick and lift off the nail beds
- Fingers with broad, wide tips
- Bulging, reddened eyes
- Pretibial myxedema, which is reddish, lumpy skin on top of your feet or on the front of the shins
Complications of Hyperthyroidism
If you don't pay attention to hyperthyroidism symptoms in women, it may lead to several complications. For instance:
- Heart Problems: You may notice issues, such as congestive heart failure, a rapid heart or atrial fibrillation, which is a heart rhythm disorder. Your healthcare provider may manage to reverse these symptoms with proper treatment.
- Brittle Bones: When left untreated, hyperthyroidism may lead to brittle bones, otherwise known as osteoporosis, because too much thyroid affects how your body incorporates calcium into your bones.
- Eye Problems: Several eye problems may arise when you have Graves' ophthalmopathy. This may include swollen, red, bulging eyes, blurring vision, sensitivity to light and vision loss.
- Red Skin: In rare cases, a patient may develop Graves' dermopathy, which causes red, swollen skin, usually on the shins and feet.
- Thyrotoxic Crisis: If left untreated, your condition may aggravate and lead to thyrotoxic crisis, which will intensify your symptoms and cause a rapid pulse, a fever, and even delirium. You should seek immediate medical attention in this case.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
In order to deal with the issue properly, it is important to understand what causes hyperthyroidism in the first place. Usually, it may happen due to the following reasons:
- Graves' disease: Graves's disease is an autoimmune disorder and is one of the main causes of hyperthyroidism. In this disorder, your body starts producing an antibody that trigger the secretion of thyroid hormone. Graves' disease is a genetic disorder and usually affects younger women.
- Thyroiditis: A viral infection may cause your thyroid to inflame, and this condition is called thyroiditis. Sometimes, you may have thyroiditis due to a problem with your immune system that causes thyroid swelling. There are different types of thyroiditis, including subacute thyroiditis, a sudden painful thyroiditis; postpartum, a thyroiditis that affects women after pregnancy; and silent thyroiditis that produces excess thyroid hormone but is not painful.
- Thyroid Nodule: Sometimes, a lump or nodule grows in your thyroid gland and overstimulates your gland to trigger the production of thyroid hormone. It can be one nodule only and the condition is called a single toxic nodule. It is called toxic multinodular goiter when you experience hyperthyroidism due to several nodules.
Treatments for Hyperthyroidism
In order to find the best treatment option, it is important to consider hyperthyroidism symptoms to identify the real cause.
Healthcare providers may rely on anti-thyroid medications as the first line of defense. They may even recommend beta-blockers to deal with symptom such as sweating, fast heart rate, and anxiety. They may recommend radioactive iodine to eliminate thyroid gland or opt for surgery to remove the gland.
It is important to understand that if you choose surgery or opt for radioactive iodine to destroy your thyroid gland, you will have to take thyroid hormone replacement pills for as long as you live.