The thyroid is something you hear a lot about in medical journals, TED talks, and maybe even in your doctor’s office. But what is the thyroid exactly? For as much as we hear about it, most people probably have no idea where the thyroid is in the body or what its function is.
So here we go!
The thyroid is the butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck which controls your metabolic rate and protein synthesis — a.k.a. your ability to lose and gain weight.
See, the more you know.
This means that thyroid problems can inhibit your ability to lose or gain weight, among other troubling things. However, the sneaky thing about thyroid problems is that they don’t always reveal themselves in the most obvious ways. This can make them very difficult to identify and treat, which can allow a suspicious situation (like you trying to lose weight for months with no success) hard to find a solution to.
Luckily, there are a few signs to watch out for that are a much clearer than playing a guessing game with your thyroid! If you notice any of these 13 symptoms, take your concerns to your doctor immediately — you could be dealing with a thyroid disorder without even realizing it.
Most adults are suggested to get 7-8 hours of sleep. If you’re getting these recommended hours and you’re still waking up tired, this means that too little thyroid hormone is coursing through your bloodstream and cells.
This hormone tells your body to get up and go, so if you’re not feeling awake after a good night’s sleep, your thyroid may be under-active.
That same lack of thyroid hormone can also have an impact on levels of “feel good” chemical, serotonin, in the brain. With an underactive thyroid turning other body systems down to “low,” it’s not surprising that your mood might sink there, too.
So if you’re feeling down for no apparent reason, your thyroid may be tricking your brain.
This can go both ways; thyroid disorder can cause an increased appetite (this is called hyperthyroidism, meaning you may have too much thyroid hormone) and a decreased appetite, which is typically an underactive thyroid. The only upside of hyperthyroidism typically offsets the caloric impact of an increased appetite so the end result isn’t weight gain. However, it’s still not a healthy bodily function.
Not only can thyroid disease mess with your appetite, but it can mess with your sense of taste and smell.
Obviously, if your thyroid hormone is out of whack, your general hormones aren’t going to be quite the same. These imbalances can show themselves in many ways, such as more intense PMS, irregular periods, infertility, and low sex drive.
Hyperthyroidism basically damages your nerves; this can result in a loss of feeling and tingling sensation in the extremities, as well as pain in those same place. If this is left unchecked, this nerve damage can cause carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis in some cases.
Noticing that your hands and feet are unusually cold or even blue? This could mean your circulation is poor. Now, a lot of things could cause this, thyroid disorder being one of them.
Typical “poor circulation” is categorized as constantly have cold hands and feet, feeling cold when others are not, or having a body temperature consistently below 98.5.
The wintertime can be a tough time on your skin, but having a thyroid disorder is a constant sabotage on your soft skin, winter or not. Having thyroid issues can result in cracking skin and brittle nails.
This mainly happens because of the role the thyroid plays in protein production. If proteins are being broken down and created correctly, protein dependent things like skin and nails tend to suffer.
People with hypothyroidism sometimes complain of constipation. This might seem unrelated, but the disruption in hormone production has likely caused a slowdown of digestive processes.
On the reverse side of the spectrum, an overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements, which is why they’re symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Ever feel like your brain is foggy? As if you’re having a hard time concentrating or memorizing things? Although these are signs of aging and other cognitive disorders, having these mind issues are also a side effect of thyroid disorder.
Test yourself with basic brain games if you’re feeling your brain slow down inexplicably, and always take these issues to your doctor, as they could be more dangerous than merely thyroid issues.
One symptom that does make sense is a sensitivity in the neck; because the thyroid is in the base of the neck, common signs of this disorder are neck swelling, snoring, or hoarse voice.
Changes to Sleep Schedule
Contrary to the loss of energy thyroid disorder can create, it can also have the reverse effect and give you too much energy. An overactive thyroid pumps out certain hormones (triiodothyronine, known as T3, and thyroxine, known as T4) in excess, which can overstimulate the central nervous system.
Most commonly, this over-stimulation can lead to insomnia, can almost entirely disrupt your good night’s sleep.
Thinning hair, particularly on your eyebrows, is a common sign of thyroid disease. An underactive or overactive thyroid throws off your hair growth cycle, just as dries out your skin and cracks your nails; if the proteins aren’t strong, your hair won’t be strong either.
Sweating when you’re finishing a long run is one thing, but excessive sweating when you’re not exerting yourself is not as likely. In fact, it is a common sign of a hyperactive thyroid. This typically happens because your higher than normal hormone levels mean your metabolism is revved up, which causes people to feel overly warm.
Do any of these symptoms apply to you? Odds are, they could be unrelated to thyroid disorder. However, we strongly suggest going to see a doctor with any concerns you may have to combat any thyroid issues before they truly begin.