Six Signs You May Have a Thyroid Disorder
January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, which is fitting, considering that the symptoms that many of us face coming out of the holidays—fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, and high cholesterol—also happen to be early indicators of a potential thyroid disorder.
As many as 59 million Americans are estimated to have a thyroid problem, and many remain unaware and untreated because the symptoms can be so vague. However, too much or too little of the hormones made by your thyroid can affect your weight, energy, heart, and brain chemistry, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.
Here are six of the most common symptoms of a thyroid disorder to look out for:
1. Chronic fatigue and lethargy—especially following a busy holiday schedule—are symptoms faced by many of us, but slow reflexes and sluggishness, as well as associated high cholesterol, may indicate low blood pressure, but it can also be a sign of a thyroid disorder. If you still feel tired despite a full night’s sleep (8-10 hours), you could have an underactive thyroid.
2. Flu season is in full swing, so a sore throat doesn’t necessarily mean you have a thyroid problem. It can, however, be an early indicator of thyroid problems. Any tenderness or increased sensitivity in the neck, including difficulty swallowing or physical swelling, can be among the common symptoms experienced by patients with a thyroid disorder.
3. Women are especially vulnerable to hyperthyroid disease. Specific symptoms may include early or delayed menstruation, irregular changes in menstrual cycles, and early onset of menopause.
4. If you are feeling jittery and anxious, especially if you can’t locate the source of the sudden onset of anxiety, it may be an indication of high blood pressure. There is also a chance your thyroid may be producing an overabundance of the thyroid hormone, which can lead to hyperthyroid disease.
5. Depression and mood swings can be another indicator of a thyroid problem. The thyroid hormone affects serotonin levels—that stuff in the brain that makes us feel good. Sudden mood changes could mean something else is going on.
6. Finally, unusual changes in body temperature, such as feeling cold when others are warm or producing more sweat than usual, are another sign of an overactive thyroid.
Many people have one or several of the symptoms mentioned above, but if you’re one of them, that doesn’t mean you have to worry just yet. You should, however, be aware if any of these symptoms come on suddenly, or if they last for a long period of time.
And as always, you should contact your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups specialist if you have any concerns about your thyroid.