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Normal thyroid levels in women

The thyroid gland is located in the lower portion of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It is one of the most important organs of the endocrine system. It includes two structures that look like lobes on either side of the trachea. The lobes are attached together by the thyroid issue which is often referred to as the isthmus.

The most important function of the thyroid gland is to maintain and regulate the levels of iodine in the body. It does this by converting the iodine present in the food items into two kinds of thyroid hormones. The two forms of thyroid hormones are called the tri-iodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4.

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Even though the thyroxine hormone is released in abundant amounts and is an important hormone, it needs to be transformed into the tri-iodothyronine hormone. This is because the thyroxine hormone is inactive in nature.

The thyroid hormones, T3 and T4 are essential to the proper functioning of the body due to their involves in several bodily functions such as regulation of the body’s metabolic activities, controlling the body temperature as well as maintaining the crucial levels of calcium in the body.

Thus, the thyroid gland regulates the secretion of optimum level of thyroid hormones in conjunction with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Any imbalance in the relationship between these three parts, results in irregularities in the production of thyroid hormones leading to several medical conditions.

The optimum/normal levels of thyroid in women

The normal thyroid levels in women are considered to be in the range between 0.5 to 4.5 mIU/L, whereas in infants, the normal thyroid levels are in between 3 to 18 mIU/L.

The abbreviation mlU/L denotes milli-international units per liter. Thyroid levels that do not fall in between these ranges are categorized as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

When it comes to women, it is also important to be kept informed about the normal thyroid levels during pregnancy. Any disruption in the normal levels of thyroid can lead to complications for the child as well as the mother.  Women who have higher levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or the TSH may be subject to premature delivery of the child.

The presence of autoimmune thyroid disease in pregnant women also increases the risk of premature delivery, even if the thyroid levels are found to be within the normal range.

The normal thyroid levels in pregnant women are classified as per the different trimesters, which are explained below:

  • In the first trimester the normal thyroid levels in women are between 0.25 to 2.96 mIU/L
  • In the second trimester the normal thyroid levels in women are between 0.45 to 2.94 mIU/L
  • In the third trimester the normal thyroid levels in women are between 0.42 to 2.76 mIU/L

Disorders caused due to abnormal thyroid levels in women

  • Abnormal levels of thyroid hormone in women can lead to either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
  • When there is an excessive production of the thyroid hormones, then the condition is known as hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, hypothyroidism refers to a condition that results in a lower than normal level of thyroid hormone production.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in women

The symptoms for an overactive thyroid gland are very subtle in the beginning but tend to be more prominent as the condition worsens. These symptoms may include:

  • weariness
  • palpitations
  • frequent bowel movements
  • trembling
  • abnormal perspiration
  • loss of weight
  • inattentiveness
  • irritability and
  • Poor or irregular menstrual flow in women
  • When a woman constantly has puffy eyes and a peculiar stare that is caused by elevated upper eyelids, it is a definite indicator of hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in women

There are several symptoms of hypothyroidism that may be physical, digestive or cognitive in nature. Some of them include:

  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • Excessive tiredness and sluggishness
  • Easy fatigue, exhaustion and weakness
  • Constipation
  • Pain, swelling or stiffness in the joints and wrists as well as numbness of the hands
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Dry and course skin along with pale complexion
  • Hair loss indicative of insufficient nutrition caused by decreased metabolism in the cells
  • Deeper and hoarser voice
  • Intellectual ability suffers resulting in memory loss, forgetfulness and even dementia
  • Depression
  • Decreased immunity and immune system problems
  • Changes in stool
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual periods or lack of menstrual periods
  • Increased sensitivity to cold temperatures due to decreased metabolism rate of the body
  • Nervousness, tremors and shivers

Treatment for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism

For Hyperthyroidism-

  • Antithyroid drugs can be used to alter the levels of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream.
  • The oral intake of radioactive iodine is another way to treat an overactive thyroid gland. This radioactive iodine kills the overactive cells in the thyroid gland.
  • Surgery is another way to treat hypothyroidism. In this a part of the thyroid gland is surgically removed.

For Hypothyroidism-

  • Hypothyroidism is caused due to decreased production of the thyroid hormones and hence thyroid hormone replacement therapy is the best treatment option. This therapy may need to continue for the lifetime of the individual.
  • In addition, changes in the diet, exercise and nutritional supplements are also helpful.
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