10 Signs of Thyroid Issues


The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones that regulate several bodily functions. Thyroid hormones are essential for the metabolism as well as for overall growth and development. An overactive thyroid causes hyperthyroidism, while an underactive thyroid leads to hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions can have a serious impact on a person’s routine health and well-being.


1. Changes in Body Weight
The body’s metabolic rate is closely associated with the thyroid. This means an unexplained shift in body weight may signify thyroid trouble. Weight gain with no change in appetite, exercise regime, and stress levels is symptomatic of low thyroid hormone production. Excess thyroid production may provoke weight loss for no apparent reason. The former condition, hypothyroidism, is far more common, especially in women. If you have an unexpected change in body weight, get your thyroid hormone levels checked.


2. Extremes of Mood
People with thyroid dysfunction also may observe a significant change in their usual demeanor and attitude. Those with hypothyroidism more commonly experience depression, apathy, cognitive dysfunction, or psychomotor slowing. With hyperthyroidism, there may be anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. The body is always working overtime, making people hyper and unable to relax.


3. Menstrual Changes
Thyroid issues often impact the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. Physicians typically monitor menstrual activity to confirm suspicions of thyroid problems. Women with hypothyroidism are likely to experience bleeding for longer than usual. Those with hyperthyroidism may notice a reduced flow that does not last as long as before. However, changes in menstruation may not occur in all women with thyroid issues. Also, other medical conditions besides thyroid dysfunction can lead to menstrual changes.


4. Goiter
Often the most visible sign of thyroid problems is a swelling in the neck called goiter. Goiter is a result of the enlargement of the thyroid gland. It may be present in individuals experiencing either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Both cancerous and non-cancerous nodules can lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland. If swelling in the neck appears, consult a doctor.


5. Altered Mental Capacity
Thyroid dysfunction may also be responsible for altered mental capacity. When the thyroid gland produces too much hormone, patients experience a lack of concentration and high distractibility. When it provides too little hormone, patients experience brain fog, slow mental processing, and forgetfulness. In most instances, such subtle symptoms go unnoticed, even though they are among the first to appear. Treatment of the underlying thyroid disorder can quickly alleviate these issues with cognitive function.


6. Low Sex Drive
Loss of libido, especially in women, has also been linked to thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism, in particular, is known to be responsible for a low sex drive. When the thyroid gland produces low levels of hormones, metabolism and other bodily functions are slowed down. The reproductive organs are slower in response, as are the adrenal glands, which produce the sex hormones. These changes may lead to a temporary disinterest in sexual activity. Once thyroid hormone replacement begins, individuals can expect their libido to normalize. Patients with hyperthyroidism rarely exhibit loss of libido. In some cases, in fact, the sex drive is enhanced.


7. Hair Loss
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be detrimental to hair quality and growth. When the thyroid produces too little hormone, hair follicles enter into resting mode. This leads to hair loss and dry, brittle strands. This hair loss is not restricted to the scalp alone but also occurs on the limbs, underarms, and even eyebrows. Hyperthyroidism tends to affect only the scalp. Hair loss there is often more severe and noticeable than in hypothyroidism. Fortunately, it is possible to restore full hair growth with appropriate treatment.


8. Unpredictable Bowel Function
Many patients with thyroid disease complain of unpredictable and dysfunctional bowel habits. Hypothyroidism is often linked with constipation because slowing of the metabolism also diminishes the digestive process. Motility of the gut is compromised, which makes it difficult to achieve a bowel movement. With hyperthyroidism, conversely, overactive metabolism may lead to very quick passage of food in the gut, thus preventing proper digestion. This may cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements. The urge to visit the bathroom is particularly strong after consumption of a meal. Over-the-counter medications for these conditions can provide temporary relief.


9. High Blood Pressure
Thyroid disorders are also associated with elevated blood pressure. Patients with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are vulnerable to the condition. When thyroid hormone production is inadequate, the heart rate is slowed. This impacts the body’s ability to pump blood and reduces the flexibility of blood vessel walls. Together, these may cause a spike in blood pressure. With hyperthyroidism, the blood pumping mechanism speeds up. This may increase blood pressure and the heart rate, causing heart palpitations and excessive sweating in severe cases.


10. Changing Sleep Patterns
Thyroid patients are also vulnerable to changes in their sleep cycle. They might find themselves extremely sleepy all the time or very alert even at rest time. The slowing of metabolism and bodily functions in hypothyroidism causes sluggishness and lethargy, leading to a desire to sleep. Hyperthyroidism produces excess energy in the body, leading to much restlessness, anxiety, and night wakefulness. The change in sleep patterns is noticeable, affecting functionality throughout the day.

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