The thyroid gland is responsible for the secretion of a hormone that governs several vital bodily functions, including growth and metabolic activity. When the thyroid malfunctions and produces the thyroid hormone in either excess or deficient amounts, numerous symptoms of ill-health manifest over time. A “thyroid problem” then, refers to a set of symptoms that are associated with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland). And it is noteworthy that these are common conditions that numerous people suffer from. Here are 10 warning signs typically associated with a dysfunctional thyroid.
1. Family History
People with a family history of thyroid or other gland-related medical conditions are at higher risk of developing thyroid problems. Genetics alone cannot determine susceptibility to thyroid problems, nor is it usually the root cause of incidence. However, there is a linkage between genetics and thyroid disease, and thus, those with a family member(s) having such health issues, should be more alert regarding the appearance of symptoms.
2. Hair Loss and Skin Problems
When an individual develops a thyroid problem, it is very likely that visible changes in their hair and skin quality may occur. Hair tends to get thinner and sparse with a sudden proclivity to hair loss. And this hair loss may not just be restricted to the scalp but even other bodily areas like the armpits and eyebrows. Skin tends to get either uncharacteristically dry and patchy or more oily and acne-prone. Few people experience no skin-related symptoms.
3. Change in Body Weight
One of the most typical signs of thyroid problems is a sudden onset of change in weight. If a person begins gaining weight at a high pace without any change in their appetite, lifestyle or stress levels they may be suffering from hypothyroidism. On the other hand, rapid weight loss, with no change in quality/quantity of food consumption, reflects a strong likelihood of having hyperthyroidism.
4. Unpredictable Bowel Function
Most people suffering from thyroid issues report unpredictable and unusual bowel function. With a malfunctioning thyroid changing the rate of metabolism, it is likely that patterns of bowel movement also change. Those suffering from low thyroid production will have a slower metabolism, a lazy gut and may feel constipated often. Those with high production levels have a very high metabolism and thus develop diarrhoea and/or frequent urge to defecate.
5. Swelling of the Neck
Often times, swelling in the neck region is the most visibly perceptible sign of thyroid problems. It occurs due to development of goitre which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. It may occur in patients of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, though swelling in the neck may not be attributed solely to just these two conditions. Thus, any swelling in the neck should prompt a medical investigation at the earliest.
6. Menstrual Problems
Some women who develop thyroid problems also report changes in their menstrual patterns. Hypothyroidism is associated with increased blood flow and longer cycles while hyperthyroidism is linked to reduced blood flow and shorter cycles. It is noteworthy however, that a lot of women do not observe significant alteration in menstrual patterns and since a lot of other conditions may cause such issues, other warning signs are perhaps more telling.
7. Depression or Anxiety
Mood disturbances are common in those suffering from thyroid dysfunction. With the incidence of hypothyroidism, serotonin levels in the brain tend to lower, thus leading to lethargy, low spirits and depression. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, leads to the body working overtime, thus leaving a person prone to anxiety, restlessness and excess energy even. Thus, extremities of mood are another sign to watch out for.
8. Loss of Libido
Thyroid issues may also be responsible for the lowering of one’s sex drive. Typically, with changes in metabolism and other bodily functions, both reproductive organs and adrenaline glands may become lazy and insufficiently responsive to stimuli. This may cause an individual to temporarily lose interest in sexual activity. With treatment underway, however, one’s sex drive may return to normal.
9. Change in Sleep Patterns
Thyroid patients are also victims of altered sleep patterns. Those suffering from hypothyroidism have a tendency to be sluggish and sleepy despite adequate rest. Those with hyperthyroidism find themselves alert and sleepless at rest time. Such signs are quite telling for they determine one’s functionality and productivity levels through the course of the day. Thus, anyone experiencing an unprecedented change in their sleep cycle, alongside some of the aforementioned symptoms, should get their thyroid checked.
10. Muscle and Joint Pain
In a lot of cases of thyroid malfunction, the muscle and joint health is also affected. People may develop frequent aches and pains, unreasoned muscle weakness and carpel tunnel syndrome a little too often. All these conditions call for a serious medical investigation.