Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked from Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked

Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked

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Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked

One of the most important parts of the body is also one of the smallest ones. The butterfly-shaped gland is the epitome example of small but powerful. The tiny gland at the base of the neck produces hormones that control many essential body processes, from the beating of the heart and burning calories to skin turnover and forming memories. More than 12 percent of people in the U.S. will develop a thyroid condition, and around 60 percent don’t know they have a problem.

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Feeling tired and weak all the time

“Fatigue is a very important sign of low thyroid,” Prudence Hall, MD, from The Hall Center, says. Since hyperthyroidism increases your metabolism, many individuals initially have a lot of energy, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. However, as the hyperthyroidism continues, the body tends to break down, so being tired is very common.

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Itchy skin

Itchy and dry skin is another common symptom of hypothyroidism. This has to do with skin turnover, Dr. Hall says. “It slows down which means there are older cells still on the skin.”

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Brittle nails

You may find your nails very breakable all of a sudden. Insufficient thyroid hormone slows down metabolism, which reduces sweating. The dryness can be extreme, this may cause no sweating, and the palms and soles to get thick and dry.

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You’re cold all the time

An underactive thyroid may be affecting your body temperature. When your thyroid hormone levels are too low, your body’s cells don’t get enough thyroid hormone. This causes your body's processes to slow down. Slowed metabolism means that your body is burning less energy. The opposite can also occur. An overactive makes your cell burn too much; hence, the excessive sweating.

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Changes in appetite

Loss of appetite, as well as greater appetite because of an overactive thyroid, is a common symptom, according to the American Thyroid Association. It is normal to be hungry after exercising or another intense physical activity. But feeling like you need more – and that happens every day for several weeks – may be a sign of diabetes or thyroid abnormalities.

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You’ve got the blues

Thyroid disorders can have a significant impact on your attitude and temperament. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel depressed. This is due to the fact that too little thyroid hormones decreases the “happiness” hormone, serotonin, in the brain. Do a quick mental check, Dr. Hall says. Ask yourself if feeling blue is happening all the time, if it’s becoming a common problem in your life, or if you’re taking birth control pills. “They are a major cause of fatigue because they bring the estrogen levels down to menopausal levels,” Dr. Hall says.

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You have mood swings

If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up. That’s why it is not surprising then that some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and mood swings, according to AACE.

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You can’t seem to concentrate

Studies indicate that an underactive thyroid can take a substantial toll on your mental health. Thyroid hormone deficiency slows everything down, including neurological functions, and then a domino effect follows – you can’t concentrate; you feel confused and have short-term memory loss.

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Increased heart rate

Increased levels of thyroxine released from the thyroid gland stimulate the heart to beat more quickly and more strongly, producing a fast heart rate (tachycardia) or palpitations, according to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada. Your heart beats very fast and it may skip a beat. You will probably experience palpitations in your throat and chest even when you’re resting.

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High blood pressure

This is a symptom not many people associate with thyroid problems. Hyper- or hypothyroidism both have been pointed out in some cases as the cause for high blood pressure. Factors related to having low blood pressure can create high blood pressure over time. One such scenario is when the kidneys fail to filter waste products properly when your pressure is low. That’s when angiotensin is produced, a peptide hormone that causes increase in blood pressure.

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Pain in legs and arms

“When the thyroid is underactive, we don’t create good muscle mass and the muscles don’t function well,” Dr. Hall adds. If you feel pain in your arms, legs and feet for no obvious reason (as in you didn’t fall or hit yourself) your thyroid gland may not be producing enough hormone. Over time, too little of it can damage the nerves that send signals from the brain throughout the entire body.

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Sudden weight gain or loss

One of the most common signs of a thyroid not working right is gained weight. An underactive thyroid can significantly slow down your metabolism. Having trouble losing a few pounds can also be a sign of hypothyroidism. The other extreme is losing weight fast. This may be due to an overactive thyroid gland.

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Hair loss

Hair loss is not among the most common symptoms, according to the British Thyroid Foundation, but it’s a possibility. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can be the cause. Don’t worry; the hair will most likely grow back once the condition is treated. Hair loss may also be a symptom of iron deficiency.

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Hoarse voice

Hoarse voice can be a symptom of a thyroid problem. Increased inflammation in the body leads to a thyroid imbalance. A thyroid nodule, which may be thyroid cancer, may be pressing on the voice box, causing hoarseness or voice changes, according to Endocrine Web. This is an uncommon way that thyroid cancer is detected.

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Snoring

Respiratory disturbances during sleep are often observed in patients suffering from hypothyroidism, according to research. Patients experienced significant decrease of snoring severity after a treatment of thyroid hormones stabilization. This also indicates a possible connection between hypothyroidism and upper airway resistance syndrome.

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Constipation

This condition is common for hypothyroidism, Dr. Yoram Shenker from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who specializes in endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and hypertension, says. The irregular hormone production often leads to unpredictable digestive functions. The complete opposite can also be a sign of a thyroid condition – overactive gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.

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High cholesterol

The thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism and can affect levels of cholesterol, fat molecules in the blood.  When thyroid hormone levels are low and thyroid stimulating hormone levels are increased, cholesterol levels also go up. A mild decrease in cholesterol levels is seen with treatment of hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone, according to American Thyroid Association.

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Trouble sleeping

It’s not normal to feel like you need to sleep for hours during the day every day. A sluggish thyroid can do that to you. On the other hand, an overactive gland can make you stay awake when you shouldn’t be by making you anxious and increasing your pulse. The condition overstimulates the nervous system, making it hard to fall asleep.

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Abnormal periods, difficulty conceiving

Menstrual abnormalities are common for women who have a thyroid condition. Their periods are more intense, last longer, with a heavier flow, which can lead to anemia. More cramps are common as well. With hyperthyroidism, periods can be shorter and very light. “Women of reproductive age can have difficulties conceiving,” Dr. Shenker says. If hormone levels are too low, a woman may not be ovulating as she should. Up to 5 percent of women who have trouble getting pregnant turn out to have a hypothyroidism.

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Vitamin D deficiency

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the body makes antibodies to the thyroid gland. Studies have shown that vitamin D may lead to the development of Hashimoto’s, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. In an unrelated study, researchers found a significantly higher rate of vitamin D deficiency in children with the condition –73.1 percent, compared to healthy children –17.6 percent.

Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked