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Posted January 06, 2020 by Ryan D Mills, DO
The thyroid is a small but mighty gland in your neck that produces the thyroid hormone which has huge importance in how your body functions. This gland impacts many different areas of your health, including your metabolism, heart function, digestive function, muscle control, mood and brain development.
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease, and women are as much as 8 times more likely than men to have a problem. Unfortunately, we don’t know why thyroid issues happen, and it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. That being said, there are some major warning signs to look out for that could be symptoms of a thyroid issue.
Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss
One of the most common signs of a thyroid issue is an unexplained change in weight. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism. Losing weight unexpectedly could mean that the body is producing more hormones than the body needs, a condition called hyperthyroidism.
Swelling in the Neck
A lump or swelling in the neck is one of the visible signs that there could be something wrong with the thyroid.
Underactivity in the thyroid could have an impact on the “feel good” chemical serotonin in your brain, which means unusual depressed feelings or feeling tired and sluggish could be a sign of a bigger issue. On the other hand, anxiousness, irritability and problems sleeping are associated with hyperthyroidism.
Fatigue or Loss of Energy
While being exhausted can be a sign of many different conditions, when fatigue is added to other symptoms it is a sign that too little thyroid hormone is being produced.
Hair Thinning or Loss
If you’re seeing a lot more hair down the drain or on the brush or if your hair texture has become dry and brittle, it could be a sign of a thyroid issue. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair grows back when the thyroid is treated.
While dry skin could just be due to winter weather, if your skin texture and appearance change drastically without a reason, it could be due to slowed metabolism caused by a decrease in thyroid hormone production. Similarly, brittle and weak nails could be the sign of an issue.
When thyroid hormone production slows, so does your digestion, which could mean constipation. On the reverse side, an overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea.
The key to treating any condition is to talk to your doctor about any issues or symptoms you may be having. If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, talk to your primary care physician who will consider testing.
For more information on endocrinology services at Summa Health, click here. To schedule an appointment with a Summa physician to discuss your symptoms and determine if you have an endocrine disorder, click or call 800.237.8662.