The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism. Unfortunately, many women experience thyroid problems that can significantly impact their health and well-being. This article will explore these thyroid disorders, their causes and risk factors, symptoms, and treatments.
Overview of Common Thyroid Disorders
Several common thyroid disorders can affect women, including:
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Thyroid nodules (abnormal growths within the thyroid gland)
- Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland)
- Thyroid cancer (cancer of the thyroid gland)
You need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these common thyroid disorders and seek medical attention if you suspect a problem. Many thyroid disorders can be effectively managed with the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Signs & Symptoms to Watch Out For
If you suspect a thyroid disorder, here are the signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- Muscle weakness and trembling
- Unintentional weight loss
- Depression or anxiety
- Muscle and joint pain
- Dry skin and hair
- Intolerance to heat
- Depression or anxiety
- Changes in heart rate or rhythm
- Swelling in the neck
- Difficulty swallowing or hoarseness
Remember that not all thyroid disorders have apparent symptoms. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. That is why it is crucial to have regular thyroid function tests, especially if you have a family history of thyroid disorders or other risk factors (see next section).
Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of thyroid disorders can vary depending on the specific type of disorder. Here are some common causes and risk factors:
- Genetics – Some thyroid disorders, such as autoimmune thyroid disease, tend to run in families.
- Autoimmune disorders – These can cause the body’s immune system to attack the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Examples are Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease.
- Pregnancy – Women who are pregnant or who have had a baby in the past six months are at high risk of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Radiation exposure – Exposure to radiation, whether from medical treatments or environmental factors, can increase the risk of thyroid nodules or cancer.
- Iodine deficiency – Iodine is an essential nutrient for the thyroid gland to produce hormones. A deficiency in iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and goiter.
- Other factors – Other factors can contribute to thyroid disorders, including certain medications, infection, inflammation, and trauma to the thyroid gland.
How Thyroid Problems Are Diagnosed
Thyroid problems are usually diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. Here are some common methods used to diagnose thyroid disorders:
These tests measure the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. Abnormal levels can indicate an underactive or overactive thyroid gland.
Ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI may be used to visualise the thyroid gland and detect any nodules or other abnormalities.
A fine-needle aspiration biopsy may be performed to collect cells from a thyroid nodule to check for cancerous or abnormal cells.
THYROID FUNCTION TESTS
These tests measure how well the thyroid gland is functioning, including tests like the radioactive iodine uptake test.
A doctor may examine the neck to check for any lumps or enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Based on the results of these tests, your healthcare provider can make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Treatment Options in Singapore
Thyroid disorders in Singapore are treated through a variety of methods, depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Here are some common treatments used:
- Medications are commonly used to treat hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and other thyroid disorders. For hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone replacement medication is typically prescribed to supplement the body’s own hormone production. For hyperthyroidism, medication can be used to block the production of thyroid hormones.
- Radioactive iodine therapy is commonly used to treat hyperthyroidism, where radioactive iodine is taken orally and absorbed by the thyroid gland to destroy overactive thyroid tissue.
- In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, particularly if there are thyroid nodules, goiters, or cancer.
- Lifestyle changes can help manage and prevent some thyroid disorders. For example, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress can all help support thyroid health.
Treatment for thyroid disorders in Singapore is provided by endocrinologists, who specialise in diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders, including thyroid problems. Treatment plans are tailored to each individual based on their specific condition and health status.
Thyroid health is essential for women’s overall well-being. You can maintain optimal health and quality of life by staying informed and proactive in supporting your thyroid health.