Your thyroid gland plays a very important role in your body. This butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above the collarbone does so much in the body, and generally goes unnoticed when working properly. It is one of your endocrine glands, which produce hormones that control many activities in your body.
However when the thyroid starts to malfunction, either with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the effect on the rest of the body becomes very obvious. Here we will look at 13 symptoms of thyroid problems that may occur when there are underlying thyroid gland issues.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disorder
Before we delve into the symptoms of thyroid disorder, we need to understand how the thyroid works. The pituitary gland of the brain controls the activity of the thyroid gland by secreting TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). This is the hormone that stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones.
There are several possible thyroid disorders, however two of the most common disorders of the thyroid are:
- Hyperthyroidism when the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) than the body needs.
- Hypothyroidism when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
Other diseases include goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules (thyroid nodules), and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).
According to the American Thyroid Association , more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during life, and these are many millions of people.
Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism, and although the two disorders are closely linked, they have several important differences that affect diagnosis and treatment.
So you know what to look for, here you can find a guide on the 13 major symptoms of thyroid problems :
1. Fatigue and sleep disorders
Hypothyroidism – Fatigue is the number one symptom that can be found with people suffering from hypothyroidism. You may feel like you want to sleep all the time, or sleep more than normal, but still feel tired and exhausted afterwards.
Hyperthyroidism – Although not in all cases, most people with hyperthyroidism find it difficult to fall asleep and therefore feel tired or exhausted. This is because the overactive thyroid can cause rapid pulse and anxiety, which in turn leads to insomnia. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or cause you to suddenly wake in the middle of the night.
Doctors diagnose hyperthyroidism by testing TSH levels, as well as thyroid hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). People who suffer from hyperthyroidism usually have low TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and high T4. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is usually associated with high levels of TSH and low T4.
2. Weight and thyroid disorders
Hypothyroidism – One of the biggest symptoms of thyroid problems, when it comes to hypothyroidism, is weight. You may find your weight increases, even if you are eating normally, and it becomes very difficult to it. This is one of the main symptoms of hypoglycemia. I have written a few articles that will help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism .
Hyperthyroidism – You may be losing weight, although you consume the same amount of food as always, or even lose weight while eating more than normal due to increased appetite.
3. Mood and mental changes
Hypothyroidism – This thyroid disorder tends to come with depression and general feelings of sadness. This is because very little thyroid hormone affects the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is or (the happy hormone) is usually found in the brain, blood platelets and bowels and is crucial in stabilizing our moods. You may also find that your mind is as sharp as it once was, and you have poor concentration or general brain fog.
Hyperthyroidism – Hyperthyroidism is more associated with anxiety or panic attacks, or you may feel like you can not relax. Too much thyroid hormone can cause difficulty concentrating and a feeling of nervousness. Another symptom of hyperthyroidism is feeling fidgety and also tremors.
4. Intestinal problems
Hypothyroidism – you have severe or long-term constipation . This is one of the most common major symptoms and it is due to changes in hormone level production that can cause a slowing of the digestive processes.
Hyperthyroidism – one of the symptoms of this thyroid disorder is diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).
5. The thyroid and joint problems
Hypothyroidism – One of the symptoms of thyroid problems that can occur with an under active thyroid is a sudden numbness, tingling or pain in the limbs. This is because producing too little thyroid hormone can affect the signals sent from the brain and spinal cord throughout the body. You may also feel general or joint stiffness, pain or weakness, or have tendonitis in the arms and legs.
Hyperthyroidism – can also cause a variety of muscle or joint problems, such as difficulty holding objects with your hands or reaching arms above your head or climbing stairs.
6. Irregular periods, fertility problems and libido
Hypothyroidism – Your periods are heavier, longer, more frequent, and more painful. You may also suffer from infertility, low sex drive and hormonal imbalances such as PMS.
Hyperthyroidism – you have shorter, lighter or infrequent periods. You may also suffer from infertility (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility).
7. Hair and Skin Changes
Hypothyroidism – Your hair becomes dry and brittle and falls easily. This is because a lack of thyroid hormone disturbs the hair growth cycle. You may also have an unusual hair loss on the outer edge of the eyebrow or on other parts of the body. Your skin can get dry due to the retarded metabolism, this also accompanies brittle nails.
The Indian Dermatology Online Journal reported that hypothyroidism is associated with mottled skin (livedo reticularis). The symptoms of irregular purple skin were resolved when appropriate medication was given to resolve low thyroid levels.
Hyperthyroidism – can also cause hair loss typically only on your head and thin and fragile skin.
8. Body temperature
Hypothyroidism – Your hands and feet become cold, or you feel cold and have chills, or your body temperature is constantly below 98.5 F (37 C).
Hyperthyroidism – you sometimes feel too much heat or sweat excessively.
9. Cholesterol Problems
Hypothyroidism – you may have high cholesterol levels , especially levels that do not respond to diet, exercise or medication.
Hyperthyroidism – you could experience abnormally low levels of cholesterol.
10. Blood pressure
Hypothyroidism – It is estimated that people with hypothyroidism have two to three times the risk of developing high blood pressure .
Hyperthyroidism – systolic blood pressure increases (the number is higher in blood pressure reading), however, diastolic pressure usually remains the same or decreases slightly.
11. Heart rate and thyroid
Hypothyroidism – You may have a slower heart rate. Heart rate is modulated by the thyroid hormone, so with lower levels of thyroid hormone, the heart rate is typically 10 to 20 beats per minute, which is slower than normal.
Hyperthyroidism – Your heart may be beating too fast or you may have palpitations or heart palpitations.
12. Enlargement of the neck (goiter)
A goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid gland and tends to protrude from the lower neck area. You may feel bloating, lump or neck discomfort or a hoarse voice. Goiter can occur in both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
13. Risk factors: family history, age, gender and smoking
Some people are more likely than others to develop thyroid problems. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to the susceptibility of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Family history – if you have a family history of thyroid problems, you run a greater risk of having a thyroid condition.
Gender and age – Thyroid diseases are more prevalent in females, especially in the elderly population. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Smoke– a component of tobacco smoke is cyanide, which is converted to thiocyanate, which acts as an anti-thyroid agent. The most dramatic effect of smoking on the thyroid is its association with hyperthyroidism. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1993, smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop Graves’ disease (a swelling in the neck and protrusion of the eyes resulting from an overactive thyroid gland).
Therefore, if you have more than 5 of these symptoms of thyroid problems. you should consult your doctor who can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by testing thyroid hormone levels in your blood.
Just know that even if you have these symptoms indicating either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, it isn’t the end of the world. There are many people who live vibrant and happy lives, even after a thyroid disorder diagnosis, many able to control or reverse it with diet. Watch out for our forthcoming article with more details on how you can do this too.