11 Ways To Know That Your Thyroid Isn't Functioning Correctly & How To Seek Help
The thyroid can be a tricky gland, and when it is not functioning properly, it can affect our whole body and mental wellbeing. The symptoms of a thyroid complication can hinder our ability to go about our daily lives feeling happy, energized and productive, and so it's important to take note of symptoms of a thyroid complication and to get help when needed.
As a certified health coach, I often find people who suffer from a thyroid complication and help them heal through diet, exercise and lifestyle adjustments, along with proper medication as directed by a primary physician. When thyroid hormone production is out of whack, it can lead to weight loss or gain, fatigue, extreme temperature changes, mood instability, thinning of hair and irritability, among other symptoms. There are many types of conditions relating to an unhealthy thyroid. Hyperthyroidism results when too much hormone is produced, while hypothyroidism results from a deficit of hormone. Graves' disease results from overproduction, and Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder, where the body attacks thyroid tissue and halts production of hormone.
Because there are so many conditions, problems with the thyroid gland are very common. If you notice something off with your body, or any of the above symptoms, it's important to set up a physical and get a blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels. Here are eleven ways to know that you might be suffering from a thyroid condition.
1. Unexplainable Weight Fluctuations
"Unexplained weight gain without changes in diet or inability to lose weight with appropriate diet and exercise" can be a major symptom of a thyroid hormone imbalance, says running coach and trainer Susie Lemmer, over email correspondence with Bustle. If you are experiencing unwanted weight gain and bloating, hypothyroidism may be to blame. Likewise, a decrease in weight can be attributed to hyperthyroidism.
2. You're Chronically Tired
Feeling fatigued even with adequate sleep, energizing foods, and exercise can be a sign of hypothyroidism, where you are lacking in hormones. Thyroid hormone helps power muscles and cells to move and perform well, so if there is a void, muscles won't have enough energy to power the body. Sleep between eight and nine hours a night or take a nap in the day. If you are still tired, see a doctor. This could also relate to "adrenal fatigue," says certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness And Nutrition, over email with Bustle.
3. You Feel Depressed
"Unexplained fatigue, irritability and depression," might indicate a thyroid problem, says certified health coach Cova Najera, over email with Bustle. Najera is in fact a sufferer of Hashimoto's disease and has experienced such symptoms firsthand. If you notice yourself feeling abnormally low during the day, you might be experiencing hypothyroidism. If the body cannot produce enough thyroid hormone, it can cause irritability, sadness and anxiety. Your body is unable to produce hormones that energize the body, and that fatigue can induce chronic sadness.
4. You Feel Frenetic
When you are experiencing hyperthyroidism, an overproduction of thyroid hormone, your body is flooded with too much energy and excitement, causing you to feel anxious and twitchy. When your mind is all over the place, it's hard to concentrate on things that are actually important and to be productive. If you feel frenetic, in the absence of caffeine, check your blood with a doctor. Contrarily, if you feel "out of place," as said by Najera, where your thoughts are clouded and you feel distant from reality, you might have Hashimoto's or hypothyroidism.
5. Appetite Changes
If you are feeling hungry all the time, as though your stomach is a bottomless pit, but you are oddly losing weight, you might be dealing with hyperthyroidism or Graves' disease. Because so much hormone is produced, the body does not store fat, but actually burns all the calories, and more, despite your incessant hunger. Contrarily, if you have hypothyroidism, your sense of taste and smell may be altered and your body will store fat automatically, leading to weight gain.
6. Skin & Nail Issues
If you are experiencing hypothyroidism, you might be noticing dry hair and skin, as well as brittle nails. Experts say that a slow metabolism can lead to dry, flaky skin and ridged nails, and hypothyroidism slows metabolic burn and promotes fat storage in the body. If you find your skin and nails to look a little off, your thyroid might be to blame.
7. Irregular Bowel Movements
According to research, irregular bowel movements can indicate an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. If you experience constipation, you might be dealing with hypothyroidism, which is due to a sluggish metabolism and excess bloating. If you have too much hormone production, and hyperthyroidism, you might experience more frequent bowel movements than usual, as well as diarrhea.
8. Change In Menstrual Cycle
If your periods are changing in cycle, becoming more or less frequent, your thyroid might be influencing those hormones and causing disruption to the normal flow. If you have hyperthyroidism, you might skip a few periods or experience abnormally light bleeding. Contrarily, if you have hypothyroidism, you might experience a heavy flow with cramping and a lengthy duration. If you note a change, see your gynecologist.
9. Your Body Temperature Is Extreme
If you find yourself abnormally hot or cold, your thyroid hormones could be over- or under- producing. Studies show that extreme bodily temperatures can result from thyroid imbalances, and this can certainly cause you discomfort during the day. If you are producing too much hormone, you might feel incredibly hot, as your body is in over-drive and filled with energy. If you feel cold, you likely cannot produce enough hormone, as your energy levels are low.
10. Lump In Your Throat
If you find a lump in your throat, which is called a goiter, you most likely have Hashimoto's disease, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. A goiter can appear as an enlargement of the gland, indicating the thyroid isn't functioning properly. If you notice swelling, schedule an appointment with a doctor and take a blood test to test your thyroid levels.
11. Your Sleep Schedule Is Off
Experts share that a change in sleep schedule can be due to thyroid complications. If you are sleeping all the time, you might be lacking in thyroid hormone. This is especially true if you feel fatigued, despite all of your sleep. However, if you have trouble falling and staying asleep due to jitteriness, you might have an overactive thyroid, thereby producing too much hormone that stimulates the body and creates tingles in the nerves.
"Low thyroid function is prevalent in women and since the thyroid is the master gland of your body, if your thyroid isn't functioning properly most processes in your body won't either," says Bruno. Thus, it's important to check yourself for all these symptoms and schedule an appointment with a doctor if you notice anything that's off with your normal bodily functioning. Trust your gut; if something feels wrong, your thyroid might very well be to blame.
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