8 signs signaling a thyroid problem

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When our thyroid functions normally, life is good. But when it malfunctions, suddenly unusual symptoms begin occurring disrupting our normal pattern. 

The thyroid is a 2-inch long butterfly shaped gland sitting at the base of your neck.  Its purpose is to release hormones that control metabolism – the way your body uses energy.  The hormones released help regulate vital body functions such as breathing, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperature, cholesterol levels and much more. 

Sometimes the thyroid may malfunction by becoming either overactive or underactive.  An overactive thyroid is called hyperthyroidism in which it produces too much hormone.  An underactive thyroid is called hypothyroidism where too little thyroid hormone is produced.  Either condition can have a serious impact on a person’s health and well-being making life more difficult. 

Here are 9 signs signaling thyroid problems which need to be checked out further with your doctor:

1.      Changes in body weight

Our metabolic rate or the rate at which we burn calories is closely regulated by the action of the thyroid.  If you notice sudden rapid weight gain with no changes in appetite, exercise routine or stress this could be symptomatic of hypothyroidism.  However if you experience rapid weight loss for no reason, it could be caused by excess thyroid production or hyperthyroidism. 

2.      Sleep pattern changes

Sleep patterns can be affected with changes in the thyroid.  You could notice either extreme sleepiness all the time or be very alert throughout the day.  If you feel sluggish or lethargic this would point towards hypothyroidism while hyperthyroidism produces excess energy leading to restlessness and anxiety which could keep you awake most of the night. 

3.      Thinning hair

Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can affect hair quality and growth.  Too little thyroid hormone causes hair to go into a “resting mode” leading to thinning of the hair and dry, brittle strands.  The hair loss can also occur on other parts of the body including, underarms, eyebrows, and limbs. Too much thyroid affects mainly just the scalp but hair loss will be more severe and noticeable. Once the thyroid problem is treated, full hair growth is restored.

4.      Low libido

Women with hypothyroidism often will experience a low sex drive. When low levels of thyroid hormone are being produced, metabolism slows down along with the adrenal glands which produce the sex hormones leading to a disinterest in sex.  Once medication is begun, libido does return.

5.      Difficulty concentrating or remembering things

A malfunctioning thyroid can cause altered mental capacity. If too much hormone is produced a person may find it hard to concentrate and be easily distracted.  When too little hormone is produced a person may notice brain fog, slow mental processing, and forgetfulness. 

6.      Goiter 

A visible sign of a thyroid problem is a goiter which is a swelling in the neck.  A goiter can occur in either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.  Anytime a person notices a swelling in the neck, it must be checked out by a doctor.  This is to rule out the possibility of a cancerous or non-cancerous thyroid nodule. 

 7.      Menstrual changes

The menstrual cycle can definitely be affected by thyroid changes.  In hypothyroidism women may have longer than normal bleeding while a woman with hyperthyroidism may havea reduced flow which does not last as long as before. 

8.      Skin changes

If you notice changes such as drier skin than normal, brittle nails, cold skin or sensitivity to cold, these can be signs of hypothyroidism.