Thyroid Problems: Surprising Signs to Watch For

Thyroid problems are very common in the United States, with about 1 in 12 people experiencing thyroid issues in their lifetimes. Signs of thyroid issues are incredibly varied, with some symptoms of thyroid problems being rather unexpected. This is not only because the thyroid can be underactive (hypothyroidism) and overactive (hyperthyroidism), but also because the thyroid and the hormones it makes affect such a wide range of organs, systems, and body functions.

But first, what is the thyroid?

The thyroid is the gland that sits at the base of your neck, wrapping around your trachea. Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid makes two key hormones: thyroxine (T4) and the active hormone triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones work together in performing the very important job of regulating your body’s metabolism.

The two most common types of thyroid issues, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, each have distinguishing thyroid disease symptoms.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

With hypothyroidism, the most common thyroid problem, your thyroid isn’t as active as it should be. As a result of this low thyroid activity, your metabolism slows, causing the following common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Feeling cold
  • Slow pulse
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Enlarged thyroid
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle and joint pain

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid is overactive, usually produces thyroid disease symptoms that are the opposite of those experienced with hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism commonly include:

  • Sweating and feeling hot
  • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Weight loss with increased appetite
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Enlarged thyroid

Surprising signs of thyroid issues

In addition to these common thyroid symptoms, there are a number of other surprising signs of thyroid issues, including:

  • Lack of focus or poor memory
  • Depression with hypothyroidism and anxiety or irritability with hyperthyroidism
  • Preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications, including miscarriage
  • Unusually heavy, light or irregular periods
  • Hair loss or brittle hair
  • Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
  • Thin or dry skin
  • Constipation with hypothyroidism and frequent bowel movements with hyperthyroidism
  • Tremors or trembling with hyperthyroidism
  • Fluid build-up, which can cause vision issues, a puffy face and even carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Reduced sex drive
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol

Causes of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism include iodine deficiency, thyroid inflammation, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, birth defect of the thyroid and temporary thyroid issues experienced during pregnancy. Those who have a family history of thyroid issues are at greater risk of experiencing thyroid problems themselves, as are women older than 60, people who take medications containing high amounts of iodine, and those who have rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus and other medical conditions.

Unfortunately, as common as thyroid issues are, if they are left unmanaged, complications of thyroid disease can be serious and even life-threatening. That’s why, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we at Avail Hospital recommend you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible to help get your thyroid function back on track — and to keep yourself out of the emergency room.

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