Thyroid problem implies the inefficient or irregular production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. This hormone regulates numerous bodily activities ranging from the maintenance of blood sugar levels to the rate at which the heart beats. When the thyroid produces either too much or too little of this hormone, a set of symptoms referred to as “thyroid problems” are observed. Depending upon the nature of production malfunction, one may suffer from either hypothyroidism (inadequate thyroid levels) or hyperthyroidism (excessive thyroid levels). Both conditions are characterized by a distinctive set of symptoms, the most common of which are mentioned below.
Low Energy Levels and Fatigue
Lack of energy and fatigue can be a debilitating symptom for thyroid sufferers. If you are feeling weak or exhausted even after a good night’s sleep, or are not able to function without 2-3 naps, thyroid levels may be the culprit. While a feeling of sluggishness and exhaustion is also related to other problems such as viral infections, sleep disorders, and anemia, having no energy in the morning can often be due to low thyroid levels. In addition to fatigue or low energy, having an overactive thyroid gland can leave a person feeling nervous, agitated, shaky, or even confused at times.
Unexpected Weight Changes
The inability to lose weight despite increasing exercise and decreasing caloric intake may be due to low thyroid levels. An underactive thyroid gland can drastically slow down your metabolism, making weight loss a near impossibility. Without correcting thyroid levels, if you’re suffering from an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, you may continually struggle with your weight, not only having difficulty losing weight but also potentially gaining while you are working hard to lose it. Alternatively, an overactive thyroid gland, also known as hyperthyroidism, can drastically speed up the metabolism, causing the body to burn calories at a faster-than-normal rate resulting in unexplained weight loss.
Neck Discomfort and Voice Hoarseness
If you are feeling neck pain or discomfort including difficulty swallowing or a swollen and red Adam’s apple it may be wise to have your thyroid levels checked. These symptoms, along with voice hoarseness, are known to be associated with an enlarged thyroid, also known as a goiter. A goiter affects the neck and the tissues surrounding and protecting the thyroid gland and can be indicative of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Luckily, goiter can be treated easily with surgery, and are rarely cancerous.
Have you felt a little blue and you’re not sure why? Hypothyroidism may be the reason behind your occasional mood swings and bouts of depression. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism may cause you to feel anxious, irritable, angry, and upset. Depression or anxiety that doesn’t improve with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications is often attributed to thyroid problems. Patients suffering from a thyroid problem do not always realize how irritable or moody they have become, and often their partners must point it out. When suffering from hypothyroidism or hypothyroidism, the body’s nervous system reacts to the irregular levels of thyroid hormone resulting in either depression or anxiety.
Irregular thyroid levels can disrupt the menstrual cycle of a woman. In hypothyroidism, women will often experience heavy menstrual periods that last longer and are more painful, while in hyperthyroidism women may experience short and infrequent menstrual periods or the absence of menstrual periods altogether. If you are experiencing irregular menstrual periods, it is always smart to have thyroid levels checked and any abnormalities treated as soon as possible, as these menstrual irregularities have the potential to lead to infertility and miscarriage.
Muscle And Joint Pain
Frequent aches and pains accompanied by a general feeling of discomfort can be indicative of thyroid problems. These aches and pains can be associated with the general fatigue and weakness that is caused by hypothyroidism. Thyroid disorders have also been known to cause frequent episodes of carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as severe pain that affects joints and tendons which may result in tendonitis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor may wish to test your thyroid levels to determine if hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may be an underlying cause.
Dry And Flaky Skin
Thyroid hormone is responsible for the production of glycosaminoglycan. It supports collagen and elastin in the skin, maintaining softness, suppleness, and moisture. If the thyroid gland is over or underactive, glycosaminoglycan production may become irregular. And this has a negative effect on the skin. Hypothyroidism may result in skin that is dry, flaky, coarse, scaly or pale. Furthermore, it can have a negative effect on the aging of the skin, causing wrinkles and fine lines to appear. Hyperthyroidism may produce skin that is itchy, fragile or oily in touch or appearance.
Sudden Hair Loss
If you are fighting hair loss, then you may be fighting with your thyroid gland as well. Low levels of thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can cause brittle and dry hair. This results in frizz, breakage, split ends and ultimately loss of hair. Hair loss related to hypothyroidism may not end with the top of your head. Noticeable loss of hair may affect other areas of the body as well. This includes eyebrows, arm hair, leg hair, chest hair (in men) and hair surrounding the pubic region.
Severe, long-term digestive problems such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often linked with an underlying thyroid problem. Thyroid hormones can interfere with your bowel habits and your body’s ability to digest general waste. The results in frequent diarrhea and constipation. If you are experiencing bowel problems that do not improve with a change in diet such as increasing fibers and healthy fats or an increase in water intake, the underlying cause may be thyroid irregularities.
Individuals who have a family history of thyroid disease are quite vulnerable to the disease itself. Having a first-degree relative is a major risk factor. Thyroid problems have a strong genetic link. A family history of autoimmune disorder has also been linked to thyroid problems.