Your thyroid may be small, but it has a huge impact on your overall health. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. It produces thyroid hormones that control many of the processes in your body, including how fast your heart beats and how your metabolism functions and burns calories.
When something goes wrong with your thyroid, it can start working too hard, or not hard enough.
Hypothyroidism means your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid has gone into hyper-drive, and is producing more thyroid hormone than your body needs.
Either too much or too little thyroid hormone can have serious effects on your health.
1) Pain in the neck
Do you have discomfort on the front of your throat, unexplained changes in your voice, or a lump in your throat? You could have an enlarged thyroid gland, also called a goiter, or a thyroid nodule. It's best to see a doctor to determine whether further examination is needed.
2) Heart Issues
Too much thyroid hormone can cause heart palpitations, which may feel like your heart is skipping one or more beats. It can also increase your heart rate, as well as your blood pressure.
Too little thyroid hormone can make your heart beat slower than it should. Low thyroid hormone levels can also allow “bad” cholesterol levels to rise, which can lead to serious heart disease or heart failure.
3) Brain fuzz
Too much thyroid hormone can make it hard to concentrate. Too little thyroid hormone can make you more forgetful.
4) Changes in mood
Too much thyroid hormone can make you feel restless, irritable or nervous.
Too little thyroid hormone can decrease the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is known as the “happy” hormone. Reduced serotonin, then, can make you feel sad or depressed.
5) Bowel problems
Too little thyroid hormone can cause constipation.
Too much thyroid hormone can lead to more frequent bowel movements or diarrhea.
6) Changes in appetite
Uncontrollable eating may mean your thyroid hormone level is too high, especially if you are eating more than normal but not gaining weight.
But if foods suddenly taste or smell different, it may be a sign your thyroid hormone level is low.
7) Feeling dry and brittle
If your hair, skin or nails feel dry and brittle no matter what you do, low thyroid hormone levels could be to blame. Too little thyroid hormone can interfere with hair growth, which may mean some of your hair and even your eyebrows could fall out.
8) Unexpected weight gain
If you are eating right and getting plenty of exercise but you are still gaining weight, low thyroid hormone level could be the problem. Low thyroid hormone levels can slow down your metabolism which means your body has a harder time burning off calories.
9) Lost libido
If you suddenly lose interest in sex, you might want to get your thyroid levels checked. Low thyroid hormone levels can directly affect your sexual desire. It can also cause weight gain and other symptoms that can make you feel less desirable.
10) Nerve twinges
Low thyroid hormone levels can damage nerves that send signals to and from your brain. This may cause strange tingles, twitches or tightness in the muscles or nerves in your arms and legs.
Many of these symptoms could also be caused by other conditions. Your doctor can use a simple blood test to check the level of thyroid hormone in your body and recommend appropriate treatment for either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above or if you have questions about your thyroid health, talk to your health care provider.
MedlinePlus. Thyroid Diseases. Web. January 18, 2016.
12 Signs There is Something Wrong With Your Thyroid Gland. Elyse Wanshel. Web. January 18, 2016.
WebMD. Understanding Thyroid Problems – Symptoms. Web. January 18, 2016.
19 signs your thyroid isn’t working right. (Health.com) Fox News.com. Web. January 18, 2016.
Reviewed January 19, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith