Sometimes health complications can make you feel off or ill. Certain symptoms come and go, but they’re not alarming enough to warrant a trip to the doctor’s office. If they occur frequently enough for you to recognize them, they could point to an underlying cause that threatens your health. Symptoms of thyroid problems often slip under the radar like this because they manifest as such common health complications.
Check out the top eight symptoms to watch out for if you want to feel like your usual self again. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your thyroid gland so they can create an actionable plan to get your health back on track.
1. Unexplained Weight Gain
You might gain weight if you eat unhealthy foods every day or you recently celebrated a holiday. Other than that, your body should stay within a five-pound “window” as it fluctuates with normal water and food consumption. Consistently gaining weight even when you eat right and exercise could mean your thyroid isn’t functioning correctly.
The thyroid gland produces three main hormones that control your metabolism:
- T3 (Triiodothyronine)
- T4 (Thyroxine)
When your thyroid doesn’t release these hormones into your bloodstream, your body won’t burn through fuel at a standard rate. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will drop, resulting in weight gain.
2. Constant Heavy Fatigue
It’s normal to feel tired after you wake up or when you finish a long day. If your exhaustion weighs you down and keeps you from your daily routine, it’s likely connected to your thyroid gland. Heavy fatigue related to your thyroid makes it nearly impossible to do little things like lift your head off the pillow or move around your home.
A decrease or increase in thyroid hormones can result in two possible diagnoses — Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease. Hashimoto’s disease makes you feel bone-numbing exhaustion, while Grave’s disease makes your thyroid hyperactive and results in fatigue from insomnia.
3. Prolonged Constipation Episodes
Thyroid hormones also affect your body’s ability to contract and process the food you eat. Constipation is a frequent symptom of people with malfunctioning thyroid glands. Certain treatments can help, but they require a doctor’s recommendation and prescription. Synbiotic supplementation is one way to reduce lasting constipation episodes, but only after a diagnosis by an endocrinologist.
4. Frequent Dry Skin
Constantly applying lotion to your arms and legs isn’t normal. Even if you’ve experienced this symptom for years, your body should hydrate the skin on its own. When your thyroid slows down, it causes dry and ashy skin, aging your appearance before the years pass.
Your doctor can recommend the best treatments to hydrate your skin and get your thyroid hormone production back to normal.
5. Balding or Thinning Hair
When you brush your hair or run your fingers through it, do you end up with clumps in your fingers or on your countertop? Thinning hair is often related to thyroid issues. A recent study proved that thyroid hormone volume has a direct association with hair growth. It affects the health of hair follicles, so the follicles remain robust and don’t fall out.
Your doctor may recommend a change in diet, vitamin supplements or hormone replacement to reverse this side effect.
6. Poorer Memory Retention
Occasionally forgetting something on your grocery list isn’t something to worry about. But when you can’t remember daily tasks or memories, it could relate to hypothyroidism.
An overactive thyroid impairs your cognitive abilities by affecting the central nervous system. The overproduction of hormones mimics the memory loss of dementia, although it can be treated with a professional diagnosis and medication.
7. Swollen Thyroid Gland
If you have hypothyroidism, your body responds by sending the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. It recognizes the increased hormone production as a threat to the body, which causes a swollen goiter or thyroid gland in your neck. Feel along the front of your neck for this swollen gland, which sits above the trachea. Your doctor can also locate it with a simple examination.
8. Increased Cholesterol Levels
The T3 hormone removes excess cholesterol from the bloodstream by regulating the liver. Thyroid issues can cause too little of this hormone, increasing your cholesterol. If your cholesterol levels are consistently high and lifestyle changes don’t lower them, you might want to speak with your doctor about receiving treatment for an underactive thyroid.
On the other hand, an overactive thyroid will cause too little cholesterol in the blood. Your body needs cholesterol to perform the following functions:
- Produce cell membranes
- Transport healthy fats
- Balance vitamin D intake
Increased cholesterol levels are a concerning indicator of potential thyroid problems, but you should also consider your thyroid if you can never maintain a healthy amount of cholesterol.
Watch for Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
Now that you know which symptoms of thyroid problems to watch out for, keep track of your daily experiences. Write your symptoms in a journal and reflect at the end of each day or week. Bring your logs to your doctor if you’re concerned about potential thyroid problems so they can quickly get an accurate diagnosis.