12 Signs You’ve Got an Underactive Thyroid
The thyroid gland is a crucial gland that sits just below the Adam’s apple on the front of the neck. It’s a powerful organ responsible for many bodily functions, including keeping your heart and brain working efficiently to help your body regulate energy.
The thyroid is one of the most common origins of hormone imbalance that we see. And if you’re a woman, you’re up to ten times more likely than men to experience issues. Many people have been perfectly balanced throughout most of their life, and suddenly, in their 40s or 50s, their thyroid function begins to deteriorate.
The two most common thyroid problems are related to the production of hormones. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, occurs because your thyroid can’t make enough of its hormones to keep the body going as it normally does. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, produces too much hormone.
So, what are the signs and symptoms to look out for and what should you do if you’re experiencing any of them?
Unexplained weight gain is one of the most common signs of hypothyroidism. You may find that you have less of an appetite than usual, or you’ve not changed any of your regular eating habits, yet you’re still struggling to maintain a healthy weight.
The fatigue you feel with hypothyroidism can be extreme, and you may find that no amount of sleep can make you feel refreshed, and even after a restful night of sleep, you’re still tired.
Hypothyroidism can leave you feeling low, irritable and in some cases, this can lead to depression. You may find that it affects your ability to concentrate, and you may have trouble remembering things.
Dry, thinning hair
As a result of hypothyroidism, your hair could change texture. It might become dryer and more brittle, making it prone to breakage or hair loss. And whilst relatively rare, some people may lose the outer 1/3 of the eyebrows.
Disturbances of the menstrual cycle
Hypothyroidism commonly affects the menstrual cycle prompting longer and heavier cycles, and you might experience more cramping than usual.
Swelling in the lower legs
Hypothyroidism can cause puffiness, fluid retention, and swelling, known as oedema. You may notice this symptom in your face and around your eyes, as well as in your hands and feet.
Hypothyroidism slows down all bodily functions, including the digestion and elimination of food. As a result, you may experience constipation because your body’s absorbing too much water from food, or your colon just isn’t contracting as it should.
Whilst hypothyroidism can make you gain weight, hyperthyroidism goes the other way, leading to unexplained weight loss. The more severe your hyperthyroidism is, the more weight you may lose. While this might sound great initially, it can actually be quite dangerous as it risks developing an increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Hyperthyroidism puts every system in your body into overdrive, including your nervous system. As a result, you may notice some trembling in your hands.
Irregular heart rate
Excessive thyroid hormone can cause an increased heart rate, leading to palpitations or an irregular heartbeat, potentially putting you at risk of heart failure and blood clots.
If you have hyperthyroidism, you may have so much thyroid hormone surging through your body that it’s challenging to fall asleep, or you may wake up frequently through the night.
Anxiety and irritability
Because your body is in such an overactive state, hyperthyroidism can lead to anxiety and irritability, especially if you’re not sleeping well.
What to do if you’re experiencing symptoms
There are so many symptoms associated with thyroid problems that it’s impossible to determine as an issue without having the appropriate tests. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, always seek advice from a doctor, as a blood test measuring your hormone levels is the only accurate way to determine whether there’s a problem.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.