Signs of a Thyroid Problem

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Published on March 20, 2019

Signs of a Thyroid Problem

Photo of woman touching her thyroid glandsPhoto of woman touching her thyroid glandsThe thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones and releases them into the bloodstream which helps regulate many bodily functions. These hormones keep your body in harmony and control metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, brain development, mood, bone maintenance, and muscle control. When you have a thyroid disease, the thyroid gland may begin to work too fast or too slow.

An underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, does not release enough hormones and slows down body functions. Hypothyroidism could cause complications such as heart trouble or high cholesterol. Conditions like Hashimoto’s disease can also lead to an underactive thyroid gland.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:

  • Weight gain – There is a slowdown in the body’s metabolism caused by low levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Slower heart rate – The heart has a difficult time keeping a healthy blood flow to your brain and body which may cause fainting.
  • Fatigue – You may feel extremely tired both physically and mentally.
  • Dry or brittle hair – Due to lack of hormones your hair may become dry or thin.
  • Constipation – Digestion and passing stool are among the processes that can be affected by low thyroid hormone levels.
  • Irritability and depression – May be caused by low hormone levels but proper thyroid replacement medications can help.
  • Memory problems – This condition may affect your memory or ability to concentrate.

On the contrary, an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, releases too many hormones and your body functions will speed up. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that triggers your thyroid to produce more hormones and is often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:

  • Weight loss – There is acceleration in the body’s metabolism due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones.
  • Frequent bowl movements – Due to an increase in hormone levels, your body’s metabolism and digestive system speed up causing more frequent bowl movements.
  • Tremors or heart intolerance – Since there are more hormones regulating the body, you may experience nervousness, anxiety, hand tremors or an increased heartbeat.
  • Fatigue – Similarly to hypothyroidism you may feel extremely tired both physically and mentally.
  • Sleep problems – This disorder may overstimulate the nervous system making it harder to sleep.
  • Thyroid gland enlargement – With Graves’ disease, your body mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland which may cause it to swell.

“It is important to see a doctor if you experience several of these symptoms at once,” says Robert Boonyaputthikul DO a PIH Health Family Medicine physician. “Effective treatments are available that can restore thyroid function back to normal. Once a patient is diagnosed with thyroid disease they will need lifelong medical follow ups to ensure that their thyroid function is working properly.”

If you suffer from the symptoms above, schedule an appointment with a PIH Health physician to see if your thyroid is functioning properly. 

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.