3 Signs You Might Have A Thyroid Problem
A small butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located at the front of the neck, the thyroid, is probably one of the most ignored and least thought of parts of our bodies. Yet this little gland is crucial to our health. It releases hormones into the bloodstream, affecting things like metabolism, digestion, proper heart function and muscle control. And when the thyroid stops working, it can impact every organ, including the kidneys, brain and heart.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to confuse thyroid symptoms with other issues, which means patients may not think to share these symptoms with their doctors. Doctors can sometimes miss the telltale signs of thyroid problems and don’t always consider doing the relatively simple blood test to see if the thyroid gland is functioning properly. There are some warning signs you might notice long before your doctor looks at your thyroid, so pay attention to any of these health issues.
It’s one thing to be tired after a long day at work. However, it’s another thing entirely to be exhausted all the time, no matter how much sleep you get or what kind of activity you’re doing. Chronic fatigue is a harbinger of thyroid issues, especially hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid is underactive and not producing enough hormones. You may find yourself feeling tired and sluggish after the simplest tasks, as well as feeling depressed and without energy. Hypothyroidism is very common, especially for women over the age of 60, and while it can be treated effectively with medication, it can cause a myriad of health problems when left untreated.
That lump in your throat could be more than just your emotions getting the best of you. Thyroid nodules are growths of thyroid cells that attach to the thyroid gland. While extremely common and usually harmless, they can sometimes become cancerous, and it’s important that they be monitored regularly for changes. Multiple nodules can also cause a goiter, which is a general swelling of the thyroid gland itself. If you suddenly have trouble swallowing, notice changes in your voice or feel a lump at the base of your throat, near your Adam’s apple, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
Although many people associate thyroid problems with weight gain, losing weight can also be a sign of thyroid malfunction. Hyperthyroidism, caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones, makes the metabolism go into overdrive, resulting in sudden and unprecedented weight loss. It is usually caused by a condition known as Grave’s Disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. With hyperthyroidism, the body not only doesn’t process food properly but also can create an irregular heartbeat, palpitations, body tremors and sleep loss. The idea of losing weight without effort might sound appealing on some levels, but there’s nothing healthy about this kind of drop in pounds.
Making sure your thyroid is healthy and functioning properly is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Most thyroid issues are very treatable, so if you have any of these symptoms, tell your doctor about them and consider getting your thyroid checked.