Thyroid problems are more common than you think, but they are often overlooked, as many people do not know about their thyroid, or the signs that may indicate there is something wrong with it. Below we look at what your thyroid is, what it does, and eight signs that may indicate you have a thyroid problem.
What is a Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland located in your neck. It is shaped like a small butterfly and is found in front of your windpipe. It can produce hormones which affect body temperature and heart rate. If you have too much of these hormones, or too little, it can cause symptoms and serious problems that need treatment. The most common thyroid diseases are related to how much hormones your thyroid produces. If you produce too little, you have hypothyroidism, and if you produce too many hormones, you have hyperthyroidism.
Sign 1: Feeling Very Tired
A big sign of your thyroid not working as it should is tiredness. While everyone may feel tired from time to time, having issues with your thyroid can make you feel exhausted, all the time. This is because your blood pressure and heart aren’t functioning at the rate they usually do, causing you to feel exhausted and like you can never get enough energy, no matter what you do. This is a big sign of hypothyroidism. If you find it difficult to stay awake, are sleeping for much longer than usual, or cannot get up in the morning, speak to your doctor.
Sign 2: Change in Heart Rate
Hyperthyroidism can cause your heart rate to increase. When your thyroid is producing more hormones than you need, it causes your blood pressure to increase, which makes your heart rate do the same. This may make you feel anxious or jittery. You may be able to feel heart palpitations, which is where your heart beats differently. It may feel like your heart is “beating out of your chest”, even if you haven’t done anything strenuous. If you have your own smart watch, try checking your heart rate and always be aware of any changes.
Sign 3: Changes in Weight
One of the most common signs that your thyroid is in trouble is a change in weight. Depending on what is wrong with your thyroid, you may gain or lose weight. This is often out of nowhere and there is no other reason for it, as you haven’t changed your diet or done more exercise. A change in weight is an early sign of thyroid issues. While it may feel good to be losing weight without doing anything differently, this is something that shouldn’t be ignored, and you should speak to your doctor at the first sign of weight changes.
Sign 4: Anxiety
Those with hyperthyroidism may experience feelings of anxiety. This is usually caused by a quicker heart rate, as it can cause the body to go into fight or flight mode. You may also notice mood changes, such as emotional outbursts or anger. This is completely normal and is due to having too many hormones in your body. If there is no other reason for your sudden feelings of anxiety or anger, your thyroid may be the culprit.
Sign 5: Changes in Body Temperature
Your thyroid is responsible for your body temperature and can affect your blood pressure. Hypothyroidism can cause your blood pressure to decrease and low circulation can make you feel cold, or like you have the chills. You may find yourself colder than normal, while everyone around you is fine. If you are cold all the time and get cold hands and feet, it may be a sign of hypothyroidism. Similarly, if you feel yourself overheating a lot, hyperthyroidism could be to blame. This could cause your blood pressure to increase, which can cause sweating and hot flushes.
Sign 6: Hair Loss
Your thyroid can cause you to lose more hair than usual. Some hair loss is expected, and you should have an idea of what is normal for you when you wash or brush your hair, or how much hair is left on your pillow in the morning. If your hair seems thinner than it used to be, or you find a bald spot, this is cause for concern. Hyperthyroidism is usually the culprit for hair loss.
Sign 7: Skin Issues
If you have hypothyroidism, it can cause dry and flaky skin. This can be on your face or other parts of your body. When your hormone levels are lower, it can cause your skin to dry out. If your thyroid is too active on the other hand, you may notice your skin becomes oily. This is a sign of hyperthyroidism. As it increases your hormone levels, the excess chemicals which are produced can cause extra moisture on the surface of your skin and hair follicles. You may even notice that you start getting spots or acne.
Sign 8: Muscle Aches
Muscle aches are often associated with thyroid issues, due to the other effects it has on the body. If you get muscle aches that seem to come from nowhere, speak to your doctor. In rare cases, thyroid problems can even cause the breakdown of muscle. If you go to the gym and seem to notice that you cannot tone your muscles despite working hard, be sure to bring this up with your doctor.
What to Do Next
If you get any of the above signs, are you are worried about your thyroid, you must speak to your doctor. If you do have a thyroid problem, you will need antithyroid medication. The Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine have an article that covers what antithyroid medication is and which one you might need. They also offer appointments if you want your thyroid checked out.
The above signs are all linked to thyroid problems, especially if you notice more than one on this list. If you notice changes in your body that do not seem normal, always speak to your doctor.