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6 Subtle Signs of Hypothyroidism in Women

Thyroid diseases affect an estimated 20 million in the United States, and more than half of them are women. In fact, women are up to three times more likely to develop a thyroid issue than men. 

What’s more, up to 60% of people are unaware of having a thyroid problem, and part of the reason is because symptoms are often subtle and easily dismissed as something else. You may feel that something is off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. 

Internal medicine physician Samuel I. Fink, MD, FACP, provides comprehensive primary care services for a full range of conditions, including hypothyroidism. Paying attention to subtle signs that you may have low levels of thyroid hormones means getting diagnosed and treated so you’re feeling better sooner. 

What is hypothyroidism?

Your thyroid gland produces important hormones that control your metabolism, and influence a wide range of functions. Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too little hormone, and it can have a major impact on how you feel and function. Here are six subtle signs to watch out for: 

1. Unexplained fatigue

Persistent, unexplained fatigue is one of the most common signs of hypothyroidism and complaint of women who are diagnosed with low thyroid. Hormones produced by your thyroid play a crucial role in regulating energy levels.

When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, your body is unable to produce enough energy, leaving you feeling exhausted despite getting a good night’s sleep.

2. Sudden weight gain

If the number on the scale is creeping up despite your best efforts to get enough exercise and eat nutritious foods, hypothyroidism might be the culprit. A sluggish thyroid slows down your metabolism, making it harder to maintain or lose weight. This can be particularly frustrating when you’re doing everything right but still aren’t seeing the results you expect.

3. Mood swings and depression

Hypothyroidism can wreak havoc on your emotions, leading to mood swings. If you have hypothyroidism, you’re at a higher risk of depression.

A deficit of thyroid hormones can affect neurotransmitter activity in your brain, contributing to a low mood that’s tough to shake off. It’s a good idea to have an evaluation if you’re having a persistent low mood or changes in mood that aren’t typical for you. 

4. Dry skin and hair

Your skin and hair can offer valuable clues about your thyroid health. Hypothyroidism often causes dry skin and brittle hair; these changes are due to a slowed metabolism. This goes hand-in-hand with other symptoms like weight gain or problems losing weight.

5. Menstrual irregularities

Women with hypothyroidism may experience heavier, more painful periods. Thyroid hormones interact with the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, and an imbalance can lead to changes in your normal cycle.

6. Feeling colder than usual

As your metabolism declines in a hypothyroid state, the body tends to have trouble regulating its temperature and generating heat. This is often most noticeable in the extremities. Cold hands and feet are common with hypothyroidism. 

You may notice that you feel cold in an environment when other people feel comfortable. This is a telltale sign that the thyroid is struggling to keep up with the body’s demand for thyroid hormone. 

Help for hypothyroidism

If you notice any of these subtle signs of hypothyroidism, it’s worthwhile to consult with a health care professional.

Thyroid testing is a simple and straightforward process that involves checking the levels of key thyroid hormones in your blood. Dr. Fink also palpates your thyroid to check for enlargement or nodules. If he notices any irregularities, he may order a thyroid ultrasound.  

Don't brush off subtle signs that you could be dealing with a thyroid problem. Listen to your body and seek the treatment you need. For the best internal medicine services in Tarzana, California, call our office to request a visit with Dr. Fink.

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