Do you have an overactive or underactive thyroid?
According to the American Thyroid Association, about 12 percent of Americans will have thyroid problems at some point in their lives. They estimate that 20 million Americans currently have thyroid problems, but more than half don’t know it at all.
Why is that? Most people are not aware of the symptoms thyroid dysfunction. In fact, a large portion of people don’t know what even the thyroid does.
The thyroid is a gland that controls metabolism and sends hormones throughout the body. It is shaped like a butterfly and it is located near the base of your neck.
“It produces hormones that regulate your metabolism by controlling the number of calories you burn, as well as the rate at which your brain, heart, liver and other organs work,” endocrinologist Christian Nasr, medical director of the Thyroid Center at the Cleveland Clinic, Told Health.com.
Because it plays such a vital role in your overall health, you should be aware of some of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
Before addressing the symptoms, however, an important note: If you experience any of these symptoms, seek help from a qualified physician. Only a doctor can diagnose thyroid problems, and this article is intended to raise awareness, not to serve as medical advice.
With that said, let’s take a look at 12 of the most common symptoms, as explained by medical professionals and sources.
A recent study in the newspaper Borders found a link between hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and chronic fatigue syndrome.
While other studies help us understand the link, the Border the results make sense. Thyroid controls metabolism, which affects your weight and your ability to store and use energy. If the gland is not functioning properly, you may notice regular fatigueeven after getting 8-10 hours of quality sleep.
However, note that between 50 and 70 millions of people in the United States have trouble sleeping or waking up. Sleep disturbances are also linked to a number of other illnesses and disorders including depression, hypertension, sleep apnea, etc., so you should undergo a sleep study to definitively diagnose the problem.
2. Anxiety and depression
According to Harvard Health Publishing, when the thyroid gland creates too much or not enough hormone that it uses to regulate metabolism patients often report mood disturbances.
These can show up in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of your condition, but if you’re feeling anxious, nervous, nervous, or depressed, there’s a chance your thyroid is to blame.
Without being too graphic, hypothyroidism is associated with constipation.
This is because the main role of your thyroid is – you guessed it – metabolism, and therefore it controls the function of your digestive tract. When your body is not making enough thyroid hormones, you will have a hard time “producing”, to put it mildly.
Overactive thyroid, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect, causing excessive trips to the toilet. Any sudden change in your digestive habits is a good reason to see your doctor as it may indicate other health issues.
4. Random sweat
“Is it hot in here, or is it just me and my overactive thyroid?”
If your body is having trouble regulating its energy production, you can start to sweat at seemingly random times. You can also feel extremely hot, even when the room is cold. You might also feel perfectly comfortable when sweating during a storm, although this symptom depends on the person.
This is the symptom of thyroid dysfunction that most people know about: if you have an underactive thyroid, you could gain weight easily.
If you have an overactive thyroid, it may be difficult for you to gain weight.
Try not to be too obsessed with the overall “weight” as this can be misleading. Body fat percentage is a better metric to follow, because the weight varies considerably during the day.
Most importantly, pay attention to how you are feeling and notice any sudden changes in your appetite. If you eat a lot, but are still hungry and cannot gain weight, hyperthyroidism could be the cause.
6. Taste changes
Thyroid dysfunction can affect the way you taste certain foods because your body will incorrectly assess how much nutrition you need and what type of nutrition you need.
If you suddenly start to crave certain foods and your appetite changes dramatically, you may be making a different amount of thyroid hormone.
7. Thinning hair
Severe and prolonged problems with your thyroid, according to the British Thyroid Foundation, can cause hair loss. When your thyroid is not functioning properly, your body mistakenly assumes that it must divert resources to essential body functions. In other words, your body thinks it has very limited energy reserves, so it goes into a “conservation mode” that de-prioritizes anything that isn’t keeping you alive.
Unfortunately, your hair could be one of the primary targets of these misguided conservation efforts. People with thyroid problems (especially hyperthyroidism) often notice thinning hair. In some cases, they will lose their hair completely, but the good news is that proper treatment will usually restore hair.
8. Muscle pain
Thyroid problems can be painful. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical symptoms include painful extremities, muscle pain, tenderness and stiffness. If you have arthritis, the disease can be made worse by thyroid dysfunction. Serious thyroid problems can also manifest as aching pain in the neck (where the thyroid is located).
You might also notice cold sensations in your fingers and toes as well as occasional numbness. This is, again, due to changes in the energy regulation of your body.
9. Visible lumps
If you notice any bumps in your neck, it could be a sign of thyroid disease, but it could also be a goiter – an enlarged but perfectly functioning thyroid – or just enlarged lymph nodes.
The American Thyroid Association suggests that if you notice a visible change, see a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.
10. Dry skin
While hyperthyroidism can make you sweat too much, as mentioned earlier, it is also possible that your body is not sweating enough due to hypothyroidism. Lack of moisture can quickly lead to dry, scaly, or itchy skin.
The limited production of hormones will also affect other parts of your body; you may notice cracked and brittle fingernails and fingernails, for example. Of course, dry nails and skin can also be caused by a lack of hydration, so be sure to drink enough water.
The Mayo Clinic recommends eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day, noting that any fluid counts toward the daily total.
11. High blood pressure
It is known that hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can lead to high blood pressure, although scientists do not agree on the specific mechanism that causes high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
The most popular theory is that low thyroid hormones slow the heart rate, affect the flexibility of blood vessel walls, and eventually lead to high blood pressure. Likewise, high thyroid hormones cause a faster heartbeat, creating a more direct effect.
In all cases, sudden changes in blood pressure always warrant a medical examination, so if this is something you are experiencing, you should talk to your doctor about it.
12. Changes in the menstrual cycle
Women with thyroid problems can experience sudden changes with their period, although this is not always directly related to the production of thyroid hormones.
Instead, changes in metabolism can cause a woman’s body to go into an anemic state (meaning a deficiency of red blood cells). This can cause fertility problems, so, again, this is a symptom that should not be ignored. If you notice any changes in your menstrual cycle, tell your doctor immediately.
So what do you do if you have hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or thyroid disease?
First of all: see your doctor. No article on the Internet can provide treatment advice – it can only tell you about the symptoms and potential problems they cause.
Typical treatment strategies involve short-term hormone therapy, which can restore normal functionality very quickly. Your doctor can also look at the causes of thyroid disease, as some are usually caused by autoimmune diseases, medications, and other obvious triggers that will need to be treated for a long-term cure.
Remember that medical diagnoses should always be treated by a qualified physician. Many of the symptoms on this list can apply to other conditions as well, so don’t assume you have a thyroid problem when talking to your doctor.
The good news, however, is that if you have a thyroid disorder, you can often treat it safely and effectively in a few months.