Your thyroid gland is one of the most important parts of the endocrine system. The butterfly-shaped organ produces thyroid hormone (TH) which regulates your metabolism, heartbeat, temperature, mood and much more. It also influences how your body performs physically and mentally. So, if you’ve been facing health issues with no diagnosis in sight, it could be your body telling you that your thyroid is off.
But how do thyroid problems begin?
Well, those who face thyroid function problems either have an underactive or overactive thyroid. These conditions are known as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism respectively. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough TH hormones and hyperthyroidism is when it makes too much. Both these conditions can cause havoc in your body but a few tell-tale signs can help you diagnose the problem and reach out for professional help early on.
9 signs of hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, as mentioned above, occurs due to an overactive thyroid gland. This means your body is producing an excess of T3 and T4 hormones. If you’re observing any of the signs below, you need to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
1. Nervousness and anxiety
As your thyroid gland shifts into overdrive, the hormones that it secretes tell your body to be in a state of chaos. This leads to symptoms that can increase nervousness and anxiety in someone. This can also lead to mood swings and hyperactive thoughts.
2. Rise in heart rate
One of the most common physiological symptoms of an increase in hormone levels is a rise in heart rate. As your heart activity increases, this can cause heart palpitations. If you observe that your heart is working overtime, you need to address a thyroid problem with your doctor.
3. Increased sweating
Since your thyroid gland is busy producing more hormones than requires, it’s but natural that your body will try to cool itself down by sweating more. The unfortunate part is that you don’t need to be excessively physically active for your body to produce more sweat.
4. Weight loss
The increase in hormones also increases your metabolism and appetite, which results in weight loss. While you may feel happy about this weight loss, a sudden shift in weight can indicate hidden conditions that need to be checked out immediately.
5. Overactive digestive system
Your digestive system can be massively impacted by a change in hormone levels. An overactive digestive system means frequent bowel movements but hyperthyroidism can also lead to rapidly changing patterns in your digestion.
Goiter occurs when your thyroid gland swells up due to an overload of hormones. Normally, the thyroid requires an ample amount of iodine to function properly. However, if your thyroid isn’t getting enough of it, your body will compensate for it and end up swelling the thyroid gland. A few symptoms of goiter include tightness in your throat, hoarseness, coughing and difficulty swallowing.
Goiter can also be caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. (hyperlink) This disorder can cause inflammation in the thyroid gland, making it grow abnormally.
7. Weak nails and thin hair
As you know, your hair and nails are perpetually growing. The thyroid gland has one of the most vital functions of sending hormone signals to trigger hair and nail growth. A rush in hormones forces the growth of hair and nails in a smaller period of time. This forced growth is pushed too fast, leading your body to stretch its natural resources and end up with thin and breakable hair and nails.
8. Trouble sleeping
Since your hormones are in overdrive, falling asleep can be a difficult task to achieve. Hormonal changes can cause the nervous system to become overactive. This leads to nervousness and anxiety as mentioned above, and sleep quality reduces automatically.
While consulting a doctor is the first thing you need to do, you can also try and relax your mind by practicing our guided meditation for better sleep.
9. Changes in menstruation cycle
As hyperthyroidism forces your body to constantly be in an overactive state, your menstrual cycle can also get negatively affected. This means your periods can be lighter and faster. You can also experience a longer gap between cycles.
9 signs of hypothyroidism
The signs are different for everyone and while you may not notice them early, having low levels of thyroid hormones can make the body run slower. We’ve already covered what an overactive thyroid does, so let’s take a look at how an underactive thyroid behaves.
If you’ve developed hypothyroidism, this means your body is producing fewer thyroid hormones and is unable to cope healthily with day-to-day stress. Feeling tired and lethargic more frequently is a tell-tale sign of hypothyroidism. This isn’t just physical but also emotional and mental. Your body may find it harder and harder to move every day and a constant slugging feeling may set in.
2. Cold sensitivity
Your thyroid secretes hormones that regulate the body temperature. In hypothyroidism, your body is secreting fewer hormones and having a harder time keeping itself warm. This happens because your metabolism slows down and in turn, you end up being more sensitive to cold.
As mentioned above, hyperthyroidism puts the digestive system into overdrive. On the other hand, hypothyroidism slows your bowel movements. This slowed process can lead to constipation.
4. Weight gain
Thyroid affects the metabolism massively. An underactive thyroid puts your metabolism into a lethargic mode, making it harder for you to burn calories. Your body already has less energy due to hypothyroidism which leads the body to store more fat.
5. Muscle ache and soreness
Again, lower metabolism causes the body to use catabolism to increase energy levels. Catabolism is when the body breaks down muscle and tissue to create energy. This can lead to weakness, soreness and pain in muscles.
6. Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
Catabolism also has a negative effect on your joints. This means added fatigue, aches and pains in the joints that are caused due to thyroid problems.
7. Hair loss
Our hair follicles are regulated by the thyroid hormone. As they have stem cells with a shorter lifespan and faster turnover, a low level of thyroid hormone can cause the hair follicles to stop regenerating. This leads to hair loss.
8. Irregular or heavy periods
The thyroid hormone works together with other hormones to regular our menstrual cycle. An abnormal level of hormones can directly affect the ovaries and uterus. This causes heavy or irregular periods. If your lifestyle is getting disrupting by such unwanted menstrual changes, you need to talk to a gynaecologist immediately.
9. Depression and brain fog
While the reasons are still unclear, hypothyroidism is critically linked to depression. An overall decrease in energy and health can lead to mental health decline. Patients with hypothyroidism also complain about mental fog and difficulty concentrating and remembering. The causes are yet to be fully understood but the treatment of low thyroid hormone has proven to be beneficial in increasing memory recall.
Thyroid related disorders are extremely common and can be treated with inexpensive medications. Understanding the symptoms is the first step towards recovery. The next step would be to approach a professional to figure out a simple treatment that can improve your quality of life greatly.
Read more: Working Out While Pregnant: Is It Safe?