Most people are blissfully unaware that their thyroid exists. Until they have a problem. But how can you tell if you actually do have thyroid problems?
What Are Thyroid Problems?
Thyroid problems are caused by issues with your thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland that sits at the bottom of your neck. It has a narrow middle section connecting two wing shaped side pieces.
Most of the time, you don't know it's there. And it doesn't cause you any problems. Unfortunately, this can quickly change. Though this gland is small, it plays an important role in your health.
Your thyroid gland produces hormones. These hormones affect the metabolic activity of your body. If you have a thyroid problem, this alters your body's metabolism.
That’s why, when this gland goes haywire, it can wreak havoc on your entire body. Making sure that your thyroid hormones are in balance is one of the best things that you can do for your health.
Side Effects of Thyroid Problems
Many people don’t even realize that the gland is malfunctioning until some pretty noticeable side effects begin to crop up. Anyone can develop a thyroid impairment that leads to hormonal imbalance.
Even children and teenagers can have problems with their thyroid - but thyroid problems leading to hormonal imbalance is more common in women. Your thyroid is the gland that gives you many different hormones.
Each of these hormones is important for your overall health. Two of the most important hormones the gland produces are known as the T4 and T3 hormones. Without the right amount of these hormones, it causes some big problems.
Lump or Swelling
One of the first outwardly noticeable signs that something is wrong with your thyroid is a lump or swelling at the base of the throat. Some women with thyroid hormone imbalance report feeling like their ability to swallow food has been impaired or they feel pressure toward the bottom of the neck.
This is because when the thyroid is having problems, one of the symptoms of that can be swelling and this causes the thyroid to become enlarged. As it grows in size, it puts pressure on the windpipe and can lead to a goiter on the outside of the throat.
Some women with thyroid hormone problems can develop nodules on the gland. If your thyroid swells, that’s a common sign that it’s not producing enough of the hormones that it’s supposed to make.
Thyroid Problems Affect Your Weight
Your thyroid plays an important role in your ability to maintain a healthy weight as it's in charge of keeping your metabolism working. If the hormones produced by this gland get unbalanced, then it can lead to gaining or losing weight.
This weight loss or weight gain is usually rapid enough to be noticeable. It can be one of the most often recognized signs that something is wrong with the thyroid.
One reason that a thyroid hormone imbalance can cause weight gain is because when the levels aren’t right, it can make you feel hungry, even if you’ve just eaten. This leads people to eating more calories than they should.
Low Levels of Thyroid Hormones
If your thyroid isn’t producing enough of the hormones, you’ll notice that you feel fatigued. You’ll also notice mood swings - especially sadness or depression. You might struggle to lose weight even when you’re barely eating enough calories.
You’ll feel cold even when in a warm environment. Brain fog, thinning hair, constipation and dry skin are all signs that you’re lacking hormones.
If your thyroid produces too few hormones, then you’ll experience fatigue that is crippling - even if you sleep well. This imbalance can also lead to depression.
You need your thyroid levels accurate in order to help keep the serotonin levels where they should be. Without that, you don’t get the much needed feel good effects from serotonin.
If your thyroid levels are too low, this is known as hypothyroidism.
High Levels of Thyroid Hormones
On the flip side, if your thyroid production is too high, you’ll have an excessively fast heart rate, your skin may get clammy, you’ll feel hot all over or have hot flashes, fatigue and you’ll lose weight rapidly.
If your thyroid levels are too high, this is known as hyperthyroidism. And the reason that either of them can change your weight is because
If there’s too little or too much hormone, then the metabolism changes. While some people might joke that having a thyroid problem that causes weight loss could be a good thing, the health risks associated with it can be serious.
A thyroid imbalance that’s hyper where you’re producing too much of the hormone can cause you to feel anxious. You might feel like you have the jitters and can’t sit still. This is because the overabundance of hormones hits your system all at once and this influx can impact your health and ability to function.
Other Thyroid Problems
When these hormones are out of balance, it can also cause constipation or diarrhea, depending on which type of imbalance you have. Some effects of a thyroid hormone imbalance have a crossover when it comes to symptoms.
You can have insomnia, cognitive problems or menstrual cycle changes with either type. If you’ve noticed changes in your weight and suspect that you’re experiencing thyroid problems, then you need to get your levels checked.
What to do if You Think You Have Thyroid Problems
You’ll want to ask your doctor for a TSH test, which is the thyroid-stimulating hormone test. If your thyroid feels enlarged or you notice a goiter or thinning hair or eyebrows, then you also need to have a TPO test done.
This stands for thyroid peroxidase antibody and this test checks for autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Disease, which specifically targets the thyroid function and can cause changes in weight.
Without a normal thyroid hormone balance, you simply can’t function well. If you have a family history of thyroid health problems, you need to get tested to see if you also have it since it can go undetected for years. You want to try to catch a malfunctioning thyroid before it wreaks havoc on your health.