Thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland which is found below your “Adam’s apple” in your throat. The function of the thyroid gland is to convert the iodine in the foods you consume into thyroid hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which are responsible for regulating metabolism and organ function. If the thyroid gland starts to malfunction, it may be attributed to many different thyroid diseases.
Thyroid disease is one of the most common endocrine disorders in the U.S and affects millions of Americans. Thyroid disease may occur when the thyroid gland does not produce the adequate amount of hormones, which are required by the body. Thyroid diseases occur more commonly in women than men. Different types of thyroid disease in women are efficiently treated with medications whereas others need surgery to remove the thyroid gland to help improve the condition. Below are some common thyroid diseases that women are afflicted with.
This is one of the most common types of thyroid disease in women, where a thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s need. This results in unexpected weight gain, muscle cramps, fatigue, puffy face, thinning hair, heavy menstrual periods and also depression. Hypothyroidism is due to a variety of factors, including autoimmune diseases, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, treatment for hyperthyroidism and certain medications.
Women, especially those above 60 years of age, family history of thyroid disease, are more likely to have hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid disease in which thyroid glands produce too much thyroid hormone like triiodothyronine and thyroxine in your body. It is often referred as overactive thyroid. The overproduction of thyroid hormones can affect your metabolism which in turn causes sudden weight loss, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, insomnia, light menstrual periods and increased sensitivity to heat.
Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland that often results in reduced thyroid function. It produces symptoms similar to hyperthyroidism and also makes you feel pain in your ear and jaw. It is caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system against the thyroid gland. Throiditis may occur at any age, but is frequently found in middle-aged women.
4. Thyroid nodules:
Thyroid nodules are lumps found in the thyroid glands. The lumps can be solid or filled with fluid or blood. The majority of thyroid nodules are benign and do not cause symptoms, but some patients may experience pain in the neck, ear and jaw. Thyroid nodules are the most common types of thyroid disease in women when compared to men. Thyroid nodules are often found in women who have Hashimoto’s disease and lack of iodine in the diet.
5. Thyroid cancer:
Other types of thyroid disease in women may also be caused by thyroid cancer that occurs in the cells of the thyroid gland. The cause of thyroid cancer is not known, but certain risk factors may increase the risk of cancer such as a family history of goiter, exposure to high levels of radiation and certain genetic syndromes. The most common symptoms of thyroid cancer include a lump or thyroid nodule, throat pain, cough, inflamed lymph nodes in the neck, vocal changes, difficulty swallowing and breathing. Thyroid cancer can occur in any age group, although it is three times more common in women than in men.