Your thyroid gland plays a very important role in your body. It is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones that control many activities in your body. There are a number of possible thyroid diseases and disorders, and the two of the most common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism (when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs) and hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones). Other diseases include goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules (lumps in the thyroid gland) and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).
According to the American Thyroid Association more than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, and these are many millions of people. Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism and although the two disorders are closely linked, they have several important differences that affect diagnosis and treatment. Here you can find a guide to the top 13 signs that you may have a thyroid disorder:
1. Fatigue and sleep disorders
Hypothyroidism – Fatigue is the number one symptom in hypo. You feel that you want to sleep all the time, or you sleep more than usual but still feel tired and exhausted with no energy.
Hyperthyroidism – some people with hyperthyroidism find it hard to fall asleep, and therefore they feel tired or exhausted. This is because overactive thyroid can cause insomnia due to rapid pulse and anxiety which can make it hard to fall asleep or even wake you in the middle of the night.
2. Weight changes
Hypothyroidism – You have a weight gain or you find it very difficult to lose weight. This is one of the top symptoms in hypo. I have already written a few articles that will help you to lose weight by increasing your metabolism and by eating these foods.
Hyperthyroidism – You may be losing weight although you eat the same amount of food as usual, or even losing weight while eating more than normal due to increased appetite.
3. Mood and mental changes
Hypothyroidism – You feel unusually depressed, sad and feeling down. This is because too little thyroid hormone affects the levels of serotonin in the brain. You may also find that your mind is not sharp and that you have poor concentration or poor memory or general brain fog.
Hyperthyroidism – hyperthyroidism is more associated with anxiety or panic attacks, or you feel that you cannot relax. Also too much thyroid hormone can cause difficulty concentrating.
4. Bowel problems
Hypothyroidism – you have severe or long-term constipation. This is one of the top most common symptoms and is due to the changes in hormone level production that can cause a slowdown of digestive processes.
Hyperthyroidism – you have diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
5. Muscle or joint problems
Hypothyroidism – you feel a sudden numbness, tingling or pain in your limbs. This is because producing too little thyroid hormone can affect the signals sent from the brain and spinal cord throughout the body. You may also feel general muscular or joint stiffness, pain or weakness, or have tendonitis in the arms and legs.
Hyperthyroidism – can also cause a variety of muscle or joint problems, such as difficulties in holding objects with hands, or reaching arms above the head or climbing stairs.
6. Irregular periods, fertility and libido problems
Hypothyroidism – your periods are heavier, longer, more frequent and more painful. You may also suffer from infertility, low sex drive and hormone imbalances such as PMS.
Hyperthyroidism – you have shorter, lighter or infrequent periods. You may also suffer from infertility (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility).
7. Hair and skin changes
Hypothyroidism – your hair becomes dry and brittle and falls out easily. This is because too little thyroid hormone disturbs hair growth cycle. You may also have an unusual hair loss in the outer edge of the eyebrow or other body parts. Your skin might be dry due to slowed metabolism and your nails are brittle.
hyperthyroidism – can also cause hair loss typically just on your head and thin and fragile skin.
8. Body temperature
Hypothyroidism – your hands and feet are cold, or you feel cold and have chills, or your body temperature is consistently below 98.5 F (37 C).
Hyperthyroidism – you sometimes feel too warm or sweat excessively.
9. Cholesterol Issues
Hypothyroidism – you have high cholesterol levels, especially when it’s not responsive to diet, exercise or medication.
Hyperthyroidism – you may have unusually low cholesterol levels.
10. blood pressure
Hypothyroidism – it is estimated that people with hypothyroidism have two to three times the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Hyperthyroidism – systolic blood pressure rises (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) However, diastolic pressure usually stays the same or goes down a little.
11. Heart rate
Hypothyroidism – You may have slower heart rate. The heart rate is modulated by thyroid hormone, so with lower levels of thyroid hormone the heart rate is typically 10-20 beats per minute slower than normal.
Hyperthyroidism – your heart may be beating too fast or you you have heart flutters or palpitations.
12. Neck enlargement (goiter)
A goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid gland. You may feel swelling or lump or discomfort in the neck or a hoarse voice. Goiter can occur both in hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
13. Risk factors: Family History, age, gender and smoking
Some people are more likely than others to develop thyroid problems. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to susceptibility of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Family history – if you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.
Gender and age – thyroid diseases are more prevalent in females, especially the elderly population. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Smoking – one component of tobacco smoke is cyanide, which is converted to thiocyanate, which acts as an anti-thyroid agent. The most dramatic effect of smoking on the thyroid is its association with hyperthyroidism. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1993 smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop Graves’ disease (a swelling of the neck and protrusion of the eyes resulting from an overactive thyroid gland).
So if you suspect you may have a combination of some of these symptoms, you may want to visit your doctor who can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood.