Your thyroid, or thyroid gland, is located at the front of your neck just below the laryngeal prominence, or Adam’s apple. Although it’s small, the gland is responsible for several vital metabolic processes in your body, including the creation of energy. It’s part of your endocrine system and may affect the regulation of your metabolism, the growth of important hormones, your sleep schedule, hair growth, amount of sweating, feelings of anxiety, and weight gain or loss. This little gland may also contribute to memory loss, constipation, and irregular periods.
Recognize Thyroid Problems
How can you tell when your symptoms point to thyroid problems? Here are several symptoms that should attract your attention:
- Weight gain that occurs when you should be maintaining or losing weight may be the result of hypothyroidism. This happens because your body isn’t appropriately stimulating your metabolism. Unexpected weight loss, especially if this is a big change, is also a sign of trouble.
- Mood swings are a symptom of hypothyroidism. You may experience anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, restlessness, and irritability.
- Hormonal imbalances, infertility, irregular periods, and a declining desire for sex are indications of a thyroid problem. Some women may experience really heavy, difficult periods or periods that don’t occur with regularity.
- Low iron levels are one result of hypothyroidism and can cause low energy levels. Heavy periods can also trigger anemia.
- Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism could cause vision problems. One specific issue occurs when the fatty tissue and muscles behind the eyes are overstrained.
- Insomnia, occurring with a racing heart and feelings of nervous energy, could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. It is possible that these symptoms could also lead to panic attacks. You may also feel pressure on the chest that prompts you to get up and move around.
- Heart fluctuations may indicate either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Use a health tracker to keep a record of fluctuations.
- There are many causes of carpal tunnel in your hands, fingers, and wrists, but if you have other symptoms on this list, the condition may be the result of thyroid problems.
- Acne, brittle nails, swelling in your neck, hair loss or gain, and temperature fluctuations may not seem like major problems, but their presence could indicate that your thyroid isn’t healthy. This is especially true if these symptoms occur with others on this list.
Most of the time, these conditions are the result of too many thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism.) You may have noticed that a lot of these symptoms could occur because of other issues.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Women are five times more likely to experience thyroid abnormalities than men. If there’s a family history of thyroid disease or other conditions, such as Graves disease, type 1 diabetes, or postpartum thyroiditis, the risk of thyroid complications increases. For women with any of these additional risk factors, age can also increase the risk of occurrence.
It isn’t always necessary to take medications to treat thyroid conditions. You may find relief from some symptoms by increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits, switching to lean proteins and fish, and replacing fats with healthier options, such as avocados and nuts. Stay away from processed foods and uncooked cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.) If you love to eat these, simply steam them lightly to deactivate their troublesome chemicals. Thyroid supplements could help you avoid iodine and iron deficiency, but make sure you discuss your use of these with your medical provider. If you’re already getting too much iodine, it could be dangerous to increase your levels. Look for supplements that contain selenium or vitamin D.
Most of the time, you won’t worry about the little butterfly-shaped gland at all, but when you start to feel run down or suddenly gain a lot of weight, you may become very interested in your thyroid. It’s a good idea to discuss your overall health and lifestyle with your medical care provider pinpoint a thyroid condition and determine treatment.