Your thyroid gland influences almost all the metabolic processes in your body thanks to the hormones it produces. As a result, when things go wrong, there can be a whole host of symptoms.
There are two main types of thyroid disorders: Hyperthyroidism is due to the overproduction of hormones, while hypothyroidism occurs when not enough are produced.
Thyroid disorders can be treated to some extent with medication, so the sooner they are diagnosed, the better.
The main signs that there is something wrong with your thyroid include:
Difficulty shedding kilos – no matter how healthily you are eating or how hard you exercise – can be a sign of hypothyroidism. However, if you are losing weight without trying, hyperthyroidism could be to blame too.
If you wake feeling exhausted, or you feel like you need more than eight hours sleep a night, or you can’t get through the day without taking a nap, hypothyroidism could be the culprit.
Depression can be a symptom of hypothyroidism, while anxiety and panic attacks are linked to hyperthyroidism. Depression that does not respond to antidepressants may also be a sign of an undiagnosed thyroid disorder.
Severe or long-term constipation is linked with hypothyroidism, while diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome can be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
When your thyroid is not working properly it can affect your periods. Heavier, more frequent and more painful periods are associated with hypothyroidism, while hyperthyroidism can lead to shorter, lighter or infrequent menstruation. Infertility can also be due to undiagnosed thyroid problems.
Muscle and joint pain can be a sign of hypothyroidism problems, as can cramps and stiffness. Weakness in the arms and a tendency to develop carpal tunnel syndrome are also possible symptoms, along with tendonitis in the arms and legs. People with hyperthyroidism may have difficulty climbing stairs, reaching their arms above their head or holding objects.
A swollen neck, hoarse voice or discomfort when you wear something fitting around your neck could be a sign of a goiter, or enlarged thyroid gland. You may even be able to see that you have an enlarged gland in your neck, which is a symptom of thyroid disease.
Hypothyroidism can cause hair to become brittle, coarse and dry, breaking off and falling out easily. You might also notice that your skin is coarse, dry and scaly. Meanwhile, hyperthyroidism can also cause severe hair loss, and skin can become thin and fragile.
If you have high cholesterol and it doesn’t respond to a change in diet, increasing exercise or cholesterol-lowering medication, hypothyroidism could be to blame. On the other hand, unusually low levels of cholesterol may be due to hyperthyroidism.
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