More than 12% of Americans have thyroid problems, and many don’t even know it. Could you be one of them? The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, produces an important hormone called thyroid hormone (HT).
HT plays a vital role in the functioning of our bodies, and an imbalance in this hormone can affect your energy level, weight, metabolism, heart rate, intestines, mood, cholesterol levels, bones, female menstrual cycles, and much, ”explains Ben Cooperberg, MD, a physician at Penn Endocrinology Washington Square.
If you’ve experienced any of the following signs or symptoms, it might be time to get your thyroid checked.
Signs You Might Have a Thyroid Problem
6. Your Weight Has Changed Significantly
Major and unexplained changes in your weight can be the result of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, which causes your body’s metabolism to speed up and lead to weight loss.
On the other hand, in hypothyroidism, your body cannot produce enough thyroxine, which causes your metabolism to slow down, which helps you gain weight.
5. You’ve Noticed A Change In Your Appearance
In addition to fluctuations in your weight, notice changes in your appearance, including weaker or brittle hair, dry, red, itchy, thin or irritated skin, swelling in your joints, a puffy face, or swelling at the base of your neck.
It can be easy to dismiss these problems as normal skin problems, but if you’ve noticed changes in the appearance of your skin along with one or more of the other factors mentioned here, it may be time to have the thyroid checked.
4. You’re Miserable
Your physical appearance isn’t the only thing affected by your hormones; They also play an important role in your general mood and mental well-being.
Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, nervousness, and irritation, while hypothyroidism can cause depression.
3. You Are Always Tired
Hyperthyroidism can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, leading to fatigue, while a lack of thyroxine in hypothyroidism can deplete the energy of the entire body.
Also, with these two conditions, you are likely to experience muscle weakness, making your body feel tired and drained.
2. You’re Always Hot Or Always Cold, But Never Comfortable
Hyperthyroidism can cause sensitivity to heat and excessive sweating, where a person suffering from hypothyroidism may find it difficult to keep warm.
When the body’s thyroid is working properly, its cells will produce 65% energy and 35% heat. However, those with thyroid problems will produce too much or too little thyroxine.
This change in hormone levels will confuse the body, causing it to produce too much heat and too little energy, or vice versa.
Weight can also affect a person’s sensitivity to heat and cold, because the more body weight you carry, the more likely you are to stay warm.
People with an underactive thyroid are more likely to be overweight or obese, making them more likely to feel hot.
In contrast, people with an overactive thyroid will find it difficult to maintain or gain weight, which can lead to a decrease in body weight and fat, making the body more sensitive to cold.
1. You’ve Skipped Your Period, But Are Not Pregnant
For women, thyroid problems can affect the menstrual cycle and fertility. This is especially true with hypothyroidism, as too little thyroxine can make it difficult for the body to release the eggs needed for ovulation, affecting a woman’s overall fertility.
Women with hypothyroidism may also be at higher risk for problems during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and miscarriage. Women who produce excess thyroxine may also experience loss of menstruation and postpartum thyroiditis.