It’s the small things in life that very often make all the difference. Our thyroid gland for instance. It is a butterfly-shaped organ that is responsible for producing fixed amounts of thyroid hormone which regulates many bodily functions. Any imbalances could result in multiple symptoms in our body.1 Overproduction of these hormones lead to hyperthyroidism and underproduction lead to hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is very common in India. Some studies suggest that about 10% Indians may be having hypothyroidism- most of it being of the subclinical variety4
Let’s delve a bit deeper and understand hypothyroidism in detail:
As stated earlier, it occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones. This leads to the slowing down of a number of bodily functions, including our metabolism.2
In subclinical hypothyroidism, the thyroid hormone levels in the blood are slightly lower than the required normal range. Unlike hyperthyroidism, it does not manifest itself in the form of visible symptoms. In such cases, a person may not even know about their condition. 3
The tell-tale signs of hypothyroidism
People generally make the mistake of confusing the symptoms of hypothyroidism with other conditions. However, we need to be aware that these symptoms develop gradually, sometimes over a period of several years. Some of the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are tiredness, weight gain, feeling sad or depressed, altered menstrual periods, infertility, more hair fall, need for more sleep.2,5
Women are more prone to Hypothyroidism
Yes, it is true that hypothyroidism is more prevalent in women, and they are 3-5 times more likely to get it as compared to men. In fact, it is the second most common type of endocrine disorder (disorder related to glands) that affects women of reproductive age. But it can impact women of all age groups too! And the chances of developing hypothyroidism in women increase with increasing age, during pregnancy, in the postpartum period and following menopause.
Women of all ages are at risk
Hypothyroidism/ subclinical hypothyroidism tends to cause several complications in women. Apart from other health issues, it could impact their reproductive functions. The severity of complications may vary, based on the age and stage of a woman’s life.3,5,6a,7,8,9,10
-In teenage girls, it can lead to delayed puberty or incomplete development of breasts and genitals.
-In young women, it can lead to heavy/prolonged bleeding, and many experience irregular periods, along with acne, facial hair, skin changes and others
-In adult women, it can lead to infertility issues. If you are pregnant, this could cause miscarriage, premature birth and intrauterine death. Over 10% pregnant women suffer from some form of hypothyroidism. Most of these complications can be prevented or reversed by appropriate treatment of hypothyroidism.
-In older women, untreated hypothyroidism can be associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
-Apart from these, over 60% women diagnosed with hypothyroidism were found to have depressive symptoms.
Hence, appropriate and timely testing/ screening of thyroid functions (levels of thyroid hormones) to detect and manage hypothyroidism at the earliest is recommended by medical associations and guidelines across the globe. 5,6,18,19,20,21,22
Who should get screened:
- Women of age 35 years and every 5 years thereafter
- All women considering treatment for infertility
- All pregnant women
- Women of menopausal age or those who have had menopause
- Diabetes & high blood pressure patients
- Patients with cholesterol disorders
- The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be very nonspecific. But if not treated on time, the symptoms may worsen and cause further complications.25 Hence it becomes very important for every woman to get herself checked with the help of a simple blood test 7 - 'Dr. Ambrish Mithal'
The good news is that this condition can be managed with the help of treatment. A well-managed thyroid patient is like a normal person. Virtually all the effects of hypothyroidism are reversible. Consult your doctor at the earliest, if you suspect a problem with your thyroid.
This is a partnered post.
** This is in partnership with Abbott India, written by Dr. Ambrish Mithal, Chairman and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Max Healthcare – Pan Max, Saket, New Delhi.
Information appearing in this material is for general awareness only and does not constitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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