An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid problem. It may be a sad surprise, but approximately 15 million people are silent sufferers of thyroid disease.
This is quite unsettling for anyone who is taken unaware by a thyroid disorder, as it can lead to some serious health complications, such as weight loss or weight gain, infertility, mood changes, etc. If you’re a female aged 35 or above, you have greater risk of acquiring the disorder. What’s more, an underactive thyroid in children can be life-threatening.
That all sounds like bad news, but a thyroid problem does have solutions once you know what’s going on.
Huge Responsibility for a Tiny Gland
Breathing, central and peripheral nervous system regulation, heart rate, muscle strength, body weight, menstrual cycles, cholesterol levels, body temperature, and the list continues—this small, butterfly-shaped gland has got a huge job description that includes regulating numerous body systems and releasing hormones.
The one thing that confuses people (and sometimes even doctors) when identifying thyroid disorders is the variety of signs and symptoms that can develop. This makes it tough to detect the root cause of any thyroid problem.
Are you experiencing sleepiness, a foggy brain, or weight loss? You could be one of the 20 million people with a thyroid problem. If you are nervous about a potential thyroid disorder, these symptoms should ring the alarm for you.
1. No Sex Drive
Hypothyroidism is a killer of sex drive. Low libido is often linked with too little thyroid hormone, as the thyroid shares a connection with adrenal glands, as well as sexual hormones. Complaints of low testosterone levels have also been resolved through thyroid treatment.
Thyroid problems have also been linked to vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable for women. For men, a thyroid problem can cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to erectile disfunction. Basically, a problem with your thyroid is a problem for your sex life.
2. Dry, Itchy Skin
Rashes may appear as poor thyroid function weakens your blood circulation, changing the appearance of your skin. Moreover, less sweat is a result of a slow metabolism, which can make your skin dry and flaky due to a lack of moisture.
3. Lazy Digestive Tract
You could be constipated due to the slowing down of your bodily functions because of hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, can force you to visit the restroom very frequently, or you may even suffer from diarrhea.
Furthermore, you may experience chest pain due to a change in stomach acid. Nausea and vomiting can also occur, so don’t take these symptoms lightly.
4. Irregular Body Temperature
It’s simple: hypothyroidism will always lower the body temperature, while hyperthyroidism will always increase it. Correct amounts of thyroid hormones regulate body temperature by increasing available energy in the body, and they also increase appetite, pulse, the levels of oxygen delivered to different body parts, and fat buildup, depending on your level of activity.
Thyroid hormones are also in charge of regulating ATP, which is the energy currency in a cell. This is why your body temperature changes: too much ATP (hyperthyroidism) will cause the body to produce too much heat, and too little (hypothyroidism) won’t produce enough.
It’s important to note that menopause can cause such changes as well, so you’ll need to confirm a thyroid problem with your doctor.
5. Unexplained Pain
Are your muscles causing you pain for no reason? It could be a sign of low thyroid function. Hypothyroidism means less metabolism-controlling hormones, which causes disruption in metabolism activity, which can cause nerve damage.
6. Fatigue and Forgetfulness
Are you feeling down and experiencing a constant lack of energy? A lack of hormones may be the reason. This hurts your brain and neurological functioning and causes sleeplessness, constant tiredness, and fatigue. An underactive thyroid turns your mood down as many bodily functions slow down.
Are you experiencing symptoms of depression? This may be the time to get your thyroid tested.
7. Weight Gain/Loss
You are eating the same foods, in the same amounts, but you are still gaining or losing wait. If you can’t button up the same size pants you were wearing before, or your clothes seem to be falling off you, you may have a thyroid problem that’s throwing your metabolism off.
This has everything to do with the way your body uses energy. We talked about ATP above. If you’re body isn’t using the energy it’s receiving, you will begin to gain weight. If it’s using too much, you will lose weight.
The Bottom Line
If you suspect you may have a thyroid problem, having a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test done will help you boil things down to a clear and accurate result. Blood tests and physical exams will help your doctor determine if you have a problem with your thyroid.
If your thyroid reports reveal that you have a problem, you descend into depression or panic. Exercise has proved to be quite effective; besides, you can normalize your thyroid functioning by eating the right foods.
Your doctor will aim to bring your thyroid activity back to a normal pace—not too fast or too slow. You must cooperate with your doctor, as negligence can make the disorder lifelong. Medications are helpful in most cases. Either way, waste no time and get diagnosed early—the faster you’re treated, the better you will recover.
Featured photo credit: Adrian Swancar via unsplash.com
|||^||Office on Women’s Health: Thyroid Disease|
|||^||Penn Medicine: How Thyroid Problems Might Be Hurting Your Sex Life|
|||^||Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: The thyroid and the gut|
|||^||British Thyroid Foundation: Thyroid and weight – the science|
|||^||Bel Marra Health: Hypothyroidism diet: Foods for underactive thyroid|