The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ responsible for creating and producing hormones essential to the normal functioning of many different systems in the body. Thyroid disease occurs when there is an imbalance in the organ’s hormone production, which affects your weight, heart rate, metabolism, mood, cholesterol levels, menstrual cycles in women, and more. If you experience any of the following symptoms, consider getting your thyroid checked to verify whether you have a thyroid problem.
1. Sudden change in weight and/or appearance
Unexplained and significant changes in body weight are often due to either an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland makes excess amounts of the thyroxine hormone that quickens the body’s metabolism more than normal, causing weight loss. On the other hand, hypothyroidism causes the opposite effect and slows down metabolism, promoting weight gain.
Apart from weight, thyroid problems can also affect your appearance in many ways, such as:
- Making hair brittle and weak.
- Irritating the skin and making it red, dry, and itchy.
- Swelling in the joints and base of the neck.
- Puffing up the face.
It is easy to dismiss these issues as usual skin problems. That said, if these occur alongside one or more of the other factors below, it is best to have your thyroid checked to be sure.
2. Terrible mood
Besides your physical appearance, thyroid hormones also play a big role in your mental wellness and overall mood. The mood changes that come with hyperthyroidism typically include irritability, nervousness, and higher anxiety than usual, while hypothyroidism can cause bouts of depression.
3. Constant tiredness
Hyperthyroidism can indirectly cause fatigue by making it harder to fall asleep at night. In contrast, hypothyroidism leads to a lack of thyroxine hormones that deplete your body of all energy. Furthermore, both conditions induce muscle weakness that makes you tired and worn down.
4. Higher sensitivity to temperature
When the thyroid gland operates normally, its cells produce 35% heat and 65% energy. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can impede this process and cause an unexpected change in hormone levels that confuses the body, making it produce too much heat and not enough energy or vice versa. Thus, people with thyroid problems often experience difficulty in staying warm or become overly sensitive to heat and sweat excessively.
5. Skipped period but not pregnant
Thyroid issues in women can also influence their fertility and menstrual cycle. This more so applies to hypothyroidism, wherein insufficient thyroxine hormones prevent the body from releasing eggs during ovulation, impairing fertility. Moreover, hypothyroidism in women increases the risk of experiencing difficulties during pregnancy, such as miscarriage and preeclampsia. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism can lead to a skipped period and postpartum thyroiditis.
The symptoms above are clear indicators of thyroid problems, but their absence does not automatically mean there is nothing to worry about. Thyroid nodules, common masses that form within the thyroid gland, can potentially cause an overactive thyroid if they are not detected early on. As such, if you experience the symptoms above or feel a bump on your neck, consider consulting with your primary care provider as soon as possible.
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Reference: Cleveland Clinic