Top 17 Signs There’s Something Wrong With Your Thyroid from Top 17 Signs There’s Something Wrong With Your Thyroid

Top 17 Signs There’s Something Wrong With Your Thyroid

One of the most important parts of our bodies is also one of the smallest ones. The thyroid, butterfly-shaped gland on the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple, releases hormones that have a huge impact on metabolism, among other processes. About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to American Thyroid Association estimates. 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. A blood test is done to determine Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. If they are above 2, then the glad isn’t functioning properly, Prudence Hall, MD, from The Hall Center, says. “The reference range used to be above 4.4, which is why 40-50 percent of cases were missed,” she adds.

You’re tired all the time

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Fatigue is a very important sign of low thyroid,” Dr. Hall 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. If you are constantly tired after sleeping enough hours and not doing a strenuous activity, check your thyroid gland.  

You’re feeling blue or depressed

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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.

Your appetite has changed

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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.

You have dry, itchy skin and brittle nails

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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.” 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.

Mood swings and irritability

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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.

Slower thinking

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The thyroid affects every cell in the body. One of the target organs is the brain, Dr. Hall says. 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.

Muscle cramps or weakness and joint aches

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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.

Increased heart rate

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Thyroid hormones affect almost every organ in the body, including the heart. When the thyroid is overactive, it speeds the body’s metabolism and it also speeds up the heart, Dr. Hall says. People whose gland is underactive may notice slower than usual heart rate.

Unexplained weight gain or loss

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One of the most common signs of a thyroid not working right is gained weight. “This is such a huge problem, especially in women,” Dr. Hall says. This may be caused by an underactive thyroid which has significantly slowed 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.

Hair loss

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If all of a sudden you find a lot more hair on your brush after combing, your thyroid hormones may be out of balance. 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. But don’t worry, the hair will most likely grow back once the condition is treated, Dr. Hall says.

Cold hands and feet

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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, causing you to feel colder.

Neck swelling or snoring

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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 hand, feet and legs can also swell.

Constipation

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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.

Abnormal periods or PMS

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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.

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. 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.

Irregular sleep patterns

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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.

You have trouble getting 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. Newborns are screened for congenital hypothyroidism. “It’s not common but it’s important to diagnose,” Dr. Shenker says. “Otherwise kids can suffer from low IQ.”