How to Tell If You Have a Thyroid Problem from How to Tell If You Have a Thyroid Problem

How to Tell If You Have a Thyroid Problem

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How to Tell If You Have a Thyroid Problem

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The thyroid is the epitome example 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. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association. Most are life-long conditions, but they can be managed. Up to 60 percent of patients are unaware of their illness. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have problems.

Are you tired more than usual?

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Fatigue is one of the most common and key signs of low thyroid. 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, making you feel exhausted for seemingly no reason. If you are constantly tired even though you have slept enough hours and did not engage in any strenuous activity, check your thyroid gland.  

How does your voice sound?

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Hoarse voice can be a symptom of a thyroid problem. Increased inflammation in the body leads to a thyroid imbalance. [See: The Best and Worst Foods for Your Thyroid] 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.

Do you have mood swings?

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Thyroid disorders often have a significant impact on mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel depressed. Low levels of thyroid hormones decrease serotonin, the so-called “happiness” hormone in the brain. If the thyroid is overactive, then every function of the body speeds up. That’s why it is not surprising  that some people with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are anxious, nervous, irritable and suffer from mood swings.

How are your cholesterol levels?

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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.

Have your eating habits changed?

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Loss of appetite, as well as greater appetite because of an overperforming thyroid, is a common symptom, according to the American Thyroid Association. It is normal to be hungry after working out, but feeling like you are never full – and if that happens every day for several weeks – may be a sign of diabetes or thyroid abnormalities.

Does your skin look different?

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It can be itchy and dry if your thyroid is underperforming. This has to do with skin turnover, Prudence Hall, MD, from The Hall Center, says. “It slows down which means there are older cells still on the skin.” 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.

Do you have trouble remembering things?

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The thyroid affects every cell in the body, those in the brain included. Studies show that an underactive thyroid can take a substantial toll on your mental health. Thyroid hormone deficiency slows everything down, including neurological functions. Then, like in a domino effect, you can’t concentrate, feel confused, and have short-term memory loss.

Do you feel weak?

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Most people don’t know about this symptom, Dr. Hall says. “When the thyroid is underactive, we don’t create good muscle mass and the muscles don’t function well,” she 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.

Is your heart speeding?

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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. Increased levels of thyroxine released from the thyroid gland stimulate the heart to beat more quickly and more strongly. People whose gland is underactive may notice slower than usual heart rate.

Did you suddenly gain or lose weight?

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One of the most common signs of a thyroid not working right is gained weight, especially among ???. [See: 14 Ways Lack of Sleep is Causing Weight Gain] 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.

How does your hair look?

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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.

Are you cold when it’s 90 degrees?

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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.  For example, the body makes less heat and less energy, asking you feel like you need to wear a sweatshirt in the summer.

Carefully look at your neck

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A swelling in the neck is a noticeable hint that something may be wrong. It can happen with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The inflammation can also be the result of thyroid cancer, which is very easily diagnosed with a 6-minute ultrasound, Dr. Hall says, or nodules or lumps that grow inside the gland. Also, very low thyroid causes the body to retain water, she adds. Your hands, feet and legs can also swell.

When was the last time you went to the bathroom?

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The digestive tract is considered the ‘second brain’ in the body,” Dr. Hall says. Low thyroid gland means that the GT doesn’t metabolize food as fast. That’s why constipation is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism. Less contraction of the muscle also leads to bloating. The bodily functions have slowed down because of not enough thyroid hormone getting to the body cells.

Did you miss your period?

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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 a common as well. With hyperthyroidism, periods can be shorter and very light.

Do you have high blood pressure?

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That is one symptom not many people are aware of or associate with thyroid problems. Hyper- or hypothyroidism both have been pointed out in some cases as the cause for high blood pressure. Avoid salty foods because sodium can make the conditions worse.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

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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.

Have you been trying to get pregnant?

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Women of reproductive age can have difficulties conceiving,” Dr. Yoram Shenker from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who specializes in endocrinology, 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.

Are you eating gluten-free products?

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Gluten is an enemy of the thyroid gland. One of the first things doctors do in treating it is getting the patient off gluten. This is because when the body can’t tolerate gluten, it creates antibodies to attack it. As they circulate in the blood, the antibodies get to the thyroid and cross-react, attacking the gland itself.

Do you have Vitamin D deficiency?

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Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that works with calcium to prevent bone loss. Evidence is increasingly pointing towards vitamin D playing a significant role in reducing the incidence of autoimmune diseases. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is mistakenly assaulted by the immune system. It is the most common cause of thyroid disease in North America and it occurs 10 times more frequently in women. Salmon and mushrooms are good sources of Vitamin D.