In case you didn’t already know, your thyroid plays a key role in your bodily functions and your metabolism. This is a butterfly shaped gland that’s located in your throat, above your collarbone.
When unbalanced, your thyroid can cause a lot of problems. Find out what the main thyroid imbalance symptoms are in today’s article.
Important but forgotten: the thyroid gland
Most of the time you’re not aware of the impact this gland has on your daily life until it “gives you trouble.” The thyroid is responsible for producing many of the hormones that control your body’s activities.
The two most common disorders of the thyroid gland are:
- Hyperthyroidism: this occurs when the thyroid produces more hormones than your body needs
- Hypothyroidism: your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones
As far as diseases related to the thyroid, you may encounter:
- Goiter: an enlargement of the gland
- Thyroid cancer
- Thyroid nodules
- Thyroiditis: inflammation of the gland
About 12% of today’s population will suffer from a problem with their thyroid, and many people experience a thyroid imbalance of some kind during their lifetime.
Please read: 8 household products that affect the thyroid
Signs that indicate a thyroid imbalance
Your body is sending you signals all the time, but you might not always listen. It’s a good idea to pay attention to any signs that could indicate an imbalance in your thyroid gland:
Fatigue and sleep disorders
This is one of the main symptoms of a thyroid problem. If you find that all you want to do is sleep, need rest for more than 10 hours straight, or feel you lack strength or energy, you could be suffering from hypothyroidism.
If you have trouble falling asleep easily, or have anxiety, it could be due to hyperthyroidism, which speeds up your heart rate.
Changes in weight
If you have hypothyroidism you might find that it’s difficult for you to lose weight. On the other hand, if you can’t put on a few extra pounds no matter what you do, your problem could be related to hyperthyroidism.
Your moods change
Mental and emotional shifts are common in people who have imbalances in their thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is related to anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, and always moving a “mile a minute.”
In the case of hypothyroidism, depression, sadness, and fatigue are on the daily menu. This is because serotonin levels are higher than normal. It can also cause a lack of concentration, or forgetfulness.
Problems with digestion
People with hypothyroidism often have serious problems with constipation (because altered hormone production can slow down the digestive process).
People who have hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, may suffer from diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.
Joint and muscle painIf your muscles suddenly feel numb, you experience pain, or find that your feet and hands fall asleep frequently, it could be caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormone. You might also experience:
If you’ve been having trouble holding things still in your hands, or experienced difficulty climbing stairs or reaching high places, your problem could be hyperthyroidism.
Reproductive system changes
Women with hypothyroidism can have longer, heavier, and more painful periods. They may also suffer from infertility and hormonal imbalances (such as premenstrual syndrome). In both men and women there is a decrease in libido, or sex drive.
Women with hyperthyroidism have shorter periods that are typically very light. They may also experience low fertility rates.
Hair and skin problemsIf your hair is very dry and brittle, or has been falling out, it could be due to poor production of thyroid hormone. In addition to that, if your skin is dry and your nails are brittle, the most likely diagnosis is hypothyroidism.
If you have hyperthyroidism, you may experience hair loss as well as delicate or fragile skin.
Body temperature changes
People who frequently suffer from cold hands and feet, or have a temperature below 98° F could be suffering from hypothyroidism.
If, on the other hand, you are unusually hot or sweat a lot during the wintertime, you could have hyperthyroidism.
Unusual cholesterol levels
In the case of hypothyroidism, LDL or HDL cholesterol levels are high, even when dieting. On the flip side, people with hyperthyroidism experience unusually low cholesterol levels.
Altered blood pressureSeveral studies have suggested that people with hypothyroidism have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. The opposite occurs in people with hyperthyroidism because, while systolic pressure may increase, diastolic pressure is reduced.
Want to know more? Read: Beets help lower blood pressure
Patients with hypothyroidism have a slower heart rate than normal (about 20 beats per minute less than usual).
Those with hyperthyroidism may notice that their heart beats very fast, or experience palpitations.
Swelling of the neck
Goiter is a common problem associated with a thyroid imbalance. This enlargement of the gland can cause swelling or a lump in the throat and hoarseness. It can occur in people with either hypo or hyperthyroidism.
Do certain people have a tendency to develop thyroid problems?
There are three main risk factors that increase your chances of developing a thyroid imbalance:
- Family history of thyroid problems
- Sex and age (it’s more common in women and people over the age of 40)
- Tobacco use (cigarettes contain substances that are harmful and toxic to your thyroid)