Hypothyroidism – a dangerous epidemic among women
Hypothyroidism & Women by Nadja Atwal
There are frequent neurologic conditions associated with an under-active thyroid – our recurring guest author , top neurologist Dr.Adam Zuber, explains the commonly encountered symptoms.
Dr. Adam Zuber:
The thyroid gland is located below the Adam’s apple in the throat. Hypothyroidism is a decreased function of the Thyroid gland and affects women quite differently than it does men. A lot of times the diagnosis is often made only when a blood test is done routinely for other conditions or as part of her medical checkup.
Normally hypothyroidism begins slowly and presents with weight gain, and lack of energy. Frequently women will notice that their hair changes in texture, becomes thin, dry and breaks easily, dry or yellowish skin, brittle nails, slow body movements, feeling cold and inability to get warm, occasionally constipation may be noted. Also associated with hypothyroidism is difficulty sleeping and sleep apnea. Memory problems may be seen including dementia, lack of concentration and depression. Frequently one develops hypothyroidism due to unknown causes but it may be autoimmune like in Hashimotos disease or with a goiter enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck. A lot of times it is related to body habitus as your body is just not able to produce enough thyroid hormone for one’s body size due to weight gain or during pregnancy.
Neuropathies are common conditions associated with hypothyroidism, even when treated. Within ten year’s women who have been under treatment for hypothyroidism frequently develop nerve disease, called neuropathy. This is quite similar to diabetic neuropathy. The symptoms associated with neuropathy are numbness, tingling, burning and pinprick sensation of the feet, some people may also encounter unsteadiness and difficulty maintaining their balance.
Also frequently associated with hypothyroidism is restless leg syndrome which is a state of persistent restlessness in the feet and legs. The person suffering from restless leg syndrome cannot sit still and have to move around constantly to settle the sensation in their feet and legs. Other conditions that may be associated with hypothyroidism is periodic limb movements of sleep which is a jerky movement that happens during sleep every 90 seconds. This can cause disruption in sleep and non-restorative sleep.
Other neurologic conditions commonly associated are increased frequency of problems of nerves that can be easily compressed. These are carpal tunnel effecting the wrist with pain and numbness of the hands, tarsal tunnel of the feet with numbness and pain in the bottom of the foot and occasionally lateral meralgia paresthetica with pain and burning sensation of the lateral thighs.
NA: Hypothyroidism is treated with oral thyroid supplements and can be managed by your primary physician and may need consultation with an endocrinologist for further correction. It is Dr. Zuber’s recommendation that women should get checked for thyroid dysfunction annually as part of their routine physicals and be treated adequately if needed as consequences of untreated hypothyroidism are serious.