10 Signs you may have a thyroid problem

The thyroid gland is one that not many people pay particular attention to. However, the thyroid gland is one that is enormously vital to our well-being.

The thyroid gland is one that not many people pay particular attention to. However, the thyroid gland is one that is enormously vital to our well-being.

It’s estimated that as many as 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid problem, and up to 60% of those people are not even aware of it. This happens because many of the signs and symptoms are so common that they are often ignored or even misdiagnosed.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped small gland located in the center of the neck, slightly below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid produces two primary hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). When either hormone levels are too high or too low, adverse health conditions can surface.

So, what does the thyroid do exactly? Thyroid gland plays important roles in breathing, body weight, muscle strength, central and peripheral nervous systems, body temperature, cholesterol levels, heart rate, menstrual cycles, and others.

Since the symptoms of a thyroid disorder can be inconspicuous, it is sometimes necessary to check its hormonal levels through tests available at most health clinics. That said, there are certain signs that can indicate a thyroid disorder.

Here are 10 signs you have a thyroid disorder

1. Fatigue and loss of energy

Feeling fatigued, exhausted, tired and having little or no energy during the day are common issues often associated with thyroid problems. These can all be signs of thyroid trouble, especially if it is quite different from your past level of fitness or energy.

Hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood) may be a potential cause of fatigue. So, if you feel tired all the time, it’s time to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis.

2. Sudden change in body weight

Unexplained weight gain and even weight loss can be a warning sign of a thyroid disorder. Generally, weight gain is the byproduct of low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may experience sudden weight loss.

If you have unexplained weight changes, get your thyroid checked.

3. Irregular heart rate

As mentioned, thyroid hormones affect a number of vital organs. When thyroid hormone levels are too low, this may cause the heart to beat too slow. When hormonal levels are elevated, heart rate may become uncharacteristically fast.

As a result, one’s blood pressure levels often become erratic. Sometimes, alterations in heart rate create noticeable sensations, such as a pounding heart or heart palpitations.

4. Swelling of the neck

Contrary to most signs of a thyroid disorder, swelling of the neck is often a very noticeable symptom. Neck problems like pain and discomfort can be caused by an inflamed thyroid (thyroiditis) or a goiter, in which the thyroid swells and becomes enlarged. A goiter can be a result of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

If you experience any of these problems, consult a doctor to find out if you have a thyroid disorder.

5. Brain fog

When thyroid functionality diminishes, the cognitive ability often does as well. Hyperthyroidism often makes it difficult to concentrate, while hypothyroidism may create lapses in memory and decreased awareness. Notably, some women have attributed such signs to menopause, when the root cause was actually a thyroid condition.

6. Decreased s-e-x drive

This sign can be a standalone or a cumulative symptom. Low libido can be the direct result of hypothyroidism, but other signs – low energy, body aches, weight gain – caused by hypothyroidism may also be to blame.

7. Sudden hair loss

Unexplained hair loss is often associated with thyroid problems. Low thyroid hormone levels can disrupt your hair growth cycle and cause more hair loss than normal. Hair loss from the scalp as well as from the outside of your eyebrows and other body parts can be noticed. Additionally, hair becomes dry, brittle and coarse. These are symptoms of hypothyroidism.

If you are concerned about the amount of hair you are losing, get your thyroid checked and opt for proper treatment.

8. Dry skin

Dry skin may be another noticeable sign of a thyroid disorder. Hypothyroidism often slows metabolism, which can initiate changes in both skin texture and appearance. Moreover, an inactive metabolism often decreases sweating which limits the amount of skin moisture, causing flakiness or dryness. Also, nails may become brittle as well.

9. Bowel-related problems

If you have digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it may be due to an underlying thyroid problem. Thyroid hormones can cause changes in bowel habits, interfering with the body’s ability to digest food and generate waste.

Severe or long-term constipation, even with adequate fiber intake, has been found to be associated with hypothyroidism, while diarrhea or IBS can be a sign of hyperthyroidism.

10. Depression and anxiety

If you have symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic disorder that do not respond to medicines and therapies, they can be signs of an underlying thyroid disorder (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism).

Although depression or anxiety can indicate thyroid disease, these symptoms alone are not sufficient to conclude that you are suffering from a thyroid disorder.
Things you can do to improve thyroid function:
Even if you aren’t diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your thyroid is functioning perfectly. If you’re concerned about your thyroid, there are some easy steps you can take to improve your thyroid function.

  • Take iodine and selenium supplements. Iodine and selenium are particularly essential for thyroid function, and many people are deficient without even knowing it.
  • Take iron, zinc and copper supplements. While these minerals role in thyroid function are less well-defined than the roles of iodine and selenium, they are nonetheless significant for promoting good thyroid function.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You should aim for between 8 and 10 hours of quality sleep per night, but if you notice that you’re sleeping more than that and are still tired, you should get your thyroid checked out.
  • Control your stress levels with meditation, yoga or exercise.
  • Go gluten free.
  • Improve gut health by eating fermented foods.
  • Lastly, work with your healthcare provider to find and treat the source of your thyroid imbalance.