What is the danger of elevated TSH in women and what does it mean

Often, an increase in thyrotropin levels is found in the diagnosis of thyroid diseases. In order to find out what an increased TSH means in women, you need to understand the physiological function of the hormone.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (thyrotropin, thyrotropin, TSH) is synthesized in thyrotropic cells of the adenohypophysis – an important organ of endocrine regulation of the human body. It is composed of alpha and beta subunits. It is the β-subunit that is unique and promotes the reaction of TSH molecules with specific receptors, most of which are concentrated in the thyroid gland.

The role of TSH in the body

Thyrotropin, acting on the membrane GPSR receptors of the thyroid gland and binding to them, activates the adenylate cyclase enzyme system, stimulates the production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which leads to an increase in the use of iodine by the body. In addition, it has a positive effect on the synthesis of proteins, phospholipids and other substances. With prolonged exposure to the organ, the hormone leads to an increase in the number and size of thyroid cells.

Why does TSH rise? A decrease in the concentration of thyroxine and triiodothyronine in the blood through the mechanism of reverse regulation affects the adenohypophysis, which leads to an increase in TSH production. The hypothalamus also releases the hormone thyroliberin, which stimulates the function of thyroid-stimulating cells.

In the human body, there are daily fluctuations in the secretion and concentration of TSH in the blood. Usually, its maximum indicators are observed at 1–4 am, and then they decrease. The minimum concentration is observed at 16–20 hours. Pregnancy and staying awake at night also affect hormone levels. In this case, the secretion decreases.

What can cause an increase in TSH in women?

To explain why TSH rises, you need to remember about the main mechanism of its regulation – through the levels of thyroxine and triiodothyronine:

  • genetic diseases with dysfunction of the thyroid gland;
  • disorders of the development of the thyroid gland (aplasia, hypoplasia);
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in the stage of hypothyroidism;
  • endemic goiter due to a lack of iodine in food;
  • condition after radiotherapy;
  • surgical removal of the thyroid gland with inadequate replacement therapy;
  • amyloidosis of the thyroid gland;
  • sarcoidosis;
  • hemochromatosis;
  • Riedel’s goiter;
  • destruction of thyroid cells by a tyrosine kinase inhibitor;
  • subacute thyroiditis in the recovery stage;
  • increased concentration of prolactin in the blood;
  • drug effects of estrogen drugs, amiodarone, cerucal, eglonil, beta-blockers, prednisolone, iodine-containing drugs, clomiphene, motilium, metoclopramide, lithium salts, neuroleptics;
  • adrenal insufficiency (decreased production of hydrocorticoids);
  • condition after removal of the gallbladder;
  • lead poisoning;
  • pituitary tumors (also elevated ATTG);
  • eclampsia;
  • syndrome of impaired sensitivity of thyroid receptors to TSH;
  • after the hemodialysis procedure;
  • psychosomatic pathology;
  • excessive physical activity.

What are the symptoms of an increased thyrotropin level?

High TSH levels by themselves do not cause any symptoms. However, the causes and consequences that lead to an increase in the concentration of thyrotropin have very striking clinical signs. In 98% of cases, they are due to the low content of thyroid hormones and the development of hypothyroidism.

General symptoms:

  • decreased performance, general weakness and slowness in performing tasks;
  • drowsiness, general lethargy;
  • overweight;
  • fragility and hair loss;
  • dyspeptic symptoms – constipation, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
  • decreased tolerance to cold;
  • hypothermia;
  • dry skin;
  • signs of myxedema edema – puffiness of the head, swelling of the extremities, difficulty with nasal breathing, a feeling of ear congestion and hoarseness;
  • frequent inflammatory processes in the respiratory system;
  • impotence in men;
  • decreased libido;
  • hyperkeratosis;
  • pallor of the skin and mucous membranes – symptoms of anemia;
  • thinness of nails;
  • ovarian dysfunction (irregular menstrual cycle, bleeding of unknown etiology, infertility);
  • low blood pressure, dizziness, recurrent headaches;
  • bradycardia;
  • muscle pain;
  • paresthesia;
  • memory impairment;
  • lag in intellectual development.

Increased TSH during pregnancy

An increase in thyrotropin levels in women in the late period of pregnancy may be one of the clinical indicators of preeclampsia. At the same time, there is hypertension, excretion of protein in the urine. In the absence of adequate treatment, convulsions and loss of consciousness are possible. 

Another reason is the decompensation of chronic thyroid diseases, which the patient previously had. It is often accompanied by a decrease in thyroxine production, which, behind the feedback mechanism, increases the TSH level.

What to do if TSH is elevated?

It is important to consider that an elevated TSH level can indicate many diseases. Therefore, you need to quickly consult an endocrinologist. He will assign you a set of laboratory and instrumental studies to establish a diagnosis.

Eating with elevated TSH does not differ from the usual diet for somatic diseases. Heavy physical exertion and emotional stress should be avoided. It is important to get rid of bad habits and exercise regularly.

Usually, in case of hyperthyroidism, substitution therapy with preparations of synthetic thyroxine analogs is prescribed. Age has little effect on the effectiveness of therapy. With the correct treatment regimen, at the age of 50, the symptoms decrease after a few days. 

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