27 million Americans have Thyroid conditions, but most don’t know it. Here are a few common thyroid symptoms that should prompt a visit to the doctor’s office.
Do you have an overactive or underactive thyroid?
According to the American Thyroid Association, about 12 percent of Americans will have thyroid conditions at some point in their lives. By some estimates, DepressionWhenThyroid 27 million Americans currently have thyroid conditions, but many are completely unaware.Thyroid
Why? Most people aren’t aware of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. In fact, many people are unaware of what the thyroid does.
The thyroid is a gland that controls metabolism and sends hormones throughout the body. It’s shaped like a butterfly and located near the base of your neck. Because it plays a critical role in your overall health, you should know some of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
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Before we get to the symptoms, however, an important note: If you have any of these symptoms, seek assistance from a qualified physician. Only a doctor can diagnose Thyroid issues, and this article is intended to raise awareness, not to function as medical advice.
With that said, let’s look at 12 of the most common symptoms.
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1. The fatiguethe
thyroid controls metabolism, which affects your weight, but also your ability to store and use energy. If the gland isn’t functioning properly, you may notice regular fatigue, even after you’ve had 8-10 hours of quality sleep.
However, note that about 40 million people in the United States have chronic sleep disorders. Sleep disturbances are also linked to a number of other diseases and disorders, including depression, hypertension, sleep apnea, and more, so you’ll need to undergo a sleep study to definitively diagnose the issue.Thyroid
the thyroid gland creates too much or too little of the hormone it uses to regulate metabolism, patients often report mood disturbances.
These can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of your condition; however, if you’re feeling anxious, jittery, nervous, or depressed, there’s a chance that your thyroid is to blame.
Without getting too graphic, hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is associated with constipation.
This is because your thyroid’s main role is—you guessed it—metabolism, and it therefore controls the function of your digestive tract. When your body isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, you’ll have trouble “producing,” to use a very strained euphemism.
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Thyroid hyperactivity, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect, causing excessive trips to the bathroom. Any sudden changes in your digestive habits are a good reason to see your doctor, since they can be indicative of other medical conditions.
“Is it hot in here, or is it just me and my hyperactive thyroid?”
If your body’s having a tough time regulating its energy production, you may start sweating at apparently random times. You may also feel extremely warm, even when the room is cold. You might also feel perfectly comfortable as you’re sweating up a storm—this symptom can vary from person to person.Thyroid
5. Weight Management Issues
These are the thyroid dysfunction symptoms that most people know; if you have an underactive thyroid, you might gain weight easily. If you have an overactive thyroid, you might have trouble putting weight on.
However, try not to get too obsessed with overall “weight,” since that can be misleading. Body fat percentage is a better metric to track, since weight varies considerably throughout the day.
More importantly, pay attention to how you feel, and note any sudden changes in your appetite. If you’re eating a lot, but you’re always hungry and you can’t put on weight, hyperthyroidism might be the culprit.
Thyroid dysfunction can change how you taste certain foods, since your body will incorrectly gauge how much nutrition you need—and what type of nutrition.
incorrectly gauge how much nutrition you need—and what type of nutrition.
If you suddenly start craving certain foods and your appetite changes dramatically, you could be producing a different amount of thyroid hormone.
When your thyroid isn’t functioning correctly, your body wrongly assumes that it needs to divert resources to essential body functions. In other words, your body thinks that it has very limited energy reserves, so it goes into a “conservation mode” that de-prioritizes anything that doesn’t keep you alive.
Unfortunately, your hair might be one of the top targets of these misguided conservation efforts. People with thyroid issues (especially hyperthyroidism) often notice thinning hair. In some cases, they’ll lose hair entirely, but the good news is that adequate treatment will usually restore hair.
Thyroid issues can be painful. Typical symptoms include aching extremities; if you have arthritis, the condition may be worsened by thyroid dysfunction. Severe thyroid issues can also manifest with painful aches in the neck (where the thyroid is located).
You might also notice cold sensations in your fingers and toes, along with occasional numbness. This is, again, due to changes in your body’s energy regulation.
If you notice lumps in your neck, these could be signs of a thyroid condition, but they could also be a goiter—an enlarged, but perfectly functional, thyroid—or simply enlarged lymph nodes.
any case, if you notice any visible change, see a doctor right away.Thyroid
10. Dry skin this
is the opposite of that “excessive sweating” symptom from earlier in this list. If you have hypothyroidism, your body might not sweat enough, and the lack of moisture can quickly result in dry, flaky, or itchy skin.
The limited hormone production will also affect other parts of your body; you might notice cracked, brittle fingernails and toenails, for instance. Of course, dry nails and skin can also be caused by a lack of hydration, so make sure you’re drinking enough water.
The Mayo Clinic recommends eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day, noting that any fluid counts towards the daily total (coffee drinkers, rejoice).
We know that both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can result in high blood pressure, although scientists disagree about the specific mechanism that causes that high blood pressure.
The most popular theory is that low thyroid hormones will slow the heart beat, affecting the flexibility of blood vessel walls and eventually resulting in high blood pressure. Likewise, high thyroid hormones cause the heart to beat faster, creating a more direct effect.
In either case, sudden changes in blood pressure always warrant a medical examination.
Women with thyroid issues may experience sudden changes with their periods, although this isn’t always directly linked with thyroid hormone production.
Instead, metabolism changes may prompt a woman’s body to go into an anemic state (meaning a deficiency of red blood cells). This can cause fertility issues, so again, it’s an important symptom. If you notice any changes in your menstrual cycle, tell your doctor right away.
So, what do you do if you have hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or thyroid disease?
First things first: get to your doctor. No internet article can provide treatment advice, even if it’s incredibly well written, well researched, and worth sharing (hint, hint).
But typical treatment strategies involve short-term hormone therapy, which can restore normal functionality very quickly. In some cases, physicians recommend other treatments, including radiation therapy, but this will depend on the exact nature of your condition.
Your doctor may also look into the causes of the thyroid condition, as some are commonly caused by autoimmune disorders, medications, and other obvious triggers that will need to be addressed for a long-term cure.
Remember, medical diagnoses should always be handled by a qualified physician. Many of the symptoms on this list can also apply to other conditions, so don’t assume that you have a thyroid issue when you speak with your physician. There’s good news, however: If you do have a thyroid disorder, however, you can often treat it safely and effectively in a matter of months.