12 Specific Signs That Your Thyroid May Not Be Working as It Should

Updated on March 18th, 2020
signs of thyroid problems

As per the American Thyroid Association, 12 percent of people in the United States have thyroid conditions at some point in life. By estimates, at least 20 million Americans have this condition. Only 1 in 2 people are aware that they have a thyroid problem.

But this tiny butterfly-shaped gland can do massive damage if it malfunctions. This is because thyroid hormones control different aspects of bodily functioning, such as the calories burnt, the rate at which the heartbeats and more.

Thyroid diseases and symptoms that come with it relate to how overactive or underactive the gland is. Depending on this, thyroid diseases include hyperthyroidism when the body makes excessive thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism when it makes too little. Women are 10x times likelier to have thyroid problems than men. It leads to symptoms such as issues with menstrual cycles and problems getting pregnant and during pregnancy.

What Does Thyroid Do?

Thyroid malfunctioning is a sign you may be stressed out. It also related to genetics, nutritional deficiencies, or environmental toxins. Thyroid hormones reach out in the body from the brain to the bowels. Diagnosing this disorder can be challenging.

Essentially, the thyroid is a gland controlling the metabolism and sending hormones to different parts of the body. It is situated at the base of the neck. It produces hormones regulating the metabolism by controlling calories burnt and the speed with which the brain, liver, heart, and other organs function. As it plays a critical role in health, you should be clear about symptoms indicating your gland is malfunctioning.

12 Signs of Thyroid Problems

1. Fatigue and Exhaustion


Studies have discovered a link between underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome(1). The thyroid is a gland controlling the metabolism, impacting weight, and the ability to burn calories to generate energy.

If the organ is not functioning well, there may be regular fatigue, even post eight to ten hours of restful sleep. Although sleep disturbances are linked to a plethora of disorders and diseases, including depression, sleep apnea, and hypertension, definitively diagnosing the issue requires measures such as undergoing a sleep study.

Sense of tiredness and zero energy are associated with many conditions, but they are most commonly linked to an underactive thyroid gland. The muscles also feel heavy, and you may still feel tired after a full night’s rest.

[ Read: Natural Remedies for Fatigue ]

2. Emotional Lows Like Depression and Anxiety

Mood disturbances are the result of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The reason for it is because the thyroid gland regulates metabolism. If you feel nervous, depressed, anxious, or jittery, this is because the thyroid is to blame. Depression and sadness can also be symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Production of less hormone can impact secretion of neurotransmitters like serotonin which makes you feel good. Body systems go low, and the mood sinks thereby, too. Excessive anxiety and feeling wired are the result of hyperthyroidism when the body makes too much hormone. The systems continuously signal activity so much so that the body goes into an overdrive mode.

[ Read: Treat Depression Naturally]

3. Abnormal Bowel Movements

Image: ShutterStock

Hypothyroidism is associated with constipation. Lack of hormone causes a slowdown in your digestion. This problem is because gut motility hits an all-time low. On the other hand, a thyroid gland that is overactive causes diarrhea or frequent bowel movements, which is why they indicate hyperthyroidism(2).

The thyroid regulates the metabolic rate and controls the functioning of the digestive tract. Thyroid over or under activity can, therefore, impact bowel movements.

4. Random Sweating

Another sign your body is facing thyroid issues is the case of random sweating. Patients with hypothyroidism are likely to feel warm when the room is cold. The symptom varies from one person to another, though, and some people may feel comfortable even with the random sweating.

5. Weight Issues

Sudden gain body weight

This is a common sign of your thyroid malfunctioning. Individuals with an underactive thyroid gain weight more quickly. For those with an overactive thyroid, putting pounds on is a struggle. Remember that weight is not necessarily a measure of health, and it varies, while other metrics like body mass index and cholesterol levels are better indicators of health.

6. Impact on Sense of Smell and Taste

Thyroid dysfunctions can change how your body experiences the sensation of taste. The body will gauge the nutrition needed incorrectly. It will also not be able to assess the type of diet your body needs.

For example, if you start craving certain food types and appetite changes are noted, this may mean your thyroid is malfunctioning. Sense of smell becomes adversely impacted too. An excessive appetite can be a sign of hyperthyroidism. An underactive thyroid impacts taste and smell both.

[Read: Natural Treatments for Thyroid]

7. Hair Thinning

thin hair
Image: ShutterStock

Prolonged thyroid problems, as per the British Thyroid Foundation, trigger hair loss. When the thyroid gland malfunctions, your body assumes it needs to divert resources to critical body functions. Your body, therefore, thinks it has limited energy reserves. As such, it goes into conservation mode, deprioritizing anything that does not keep you functional.

If you have dry or brittle hair, it could indicate an underactive thyroid. Too little thyroid hormones in your body disrupt hair growth cycles, as follicles enter the resting mode, resulting in hair loss, even sometimes all over your body. An overactive thyroid also causes hair thinning. Adequate treatment can restore hair thickness.

[Read: Stop Hair Thinning Naturally]

8. Muscle Soreness

Thyroid issues can cause pain and physical symptoms such as muscular aches, tenderness, stiffness, and even pain in the extremities. If there is arthritis, the condition can further worsen.

Severe thyroid issues also cause neck pain, where the thyroid is located. Cold sensations in fingers and toes and occasional numbness indicate changes in the energy regulation of the body. Hypothyroidism is associated with unexplained twitches and tingles.

9. Visible Lumps

Another surefire sign of thyroid issues is lumping on the neck. According to the American Thyroid Association(3), any visible changes require a quick visit to the doctor for an adequate diagnosis.

10. Dryness of the Skin

Dryness of the Skin

While hyperthyroidism causes excessive sweat, hypothyroidism causes too little. Lack of moisture triggers dry, itchy, or flaky skin. Skin which is dry and itchy signals hypothyroidism. Changes may occur due to slowed metabolism, caused by deficient thyroid production. Skin sans moisture leads to dryness and flakiness. Brittle nails with ridges may also occur.

Limited hormone production impacts body parts. For example, one may note cracked, brittle toenails, and fingernails.

[Read: Natural Ways to Treat Dry Skin]

11. Hypertension and High Blood Pressure

Both hypo and hyperthyroidism result in high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Some scientists hold that low thyroid hormones slow the heartbeat, impacting blood vessel wall flexibility, triggering high blood pressure. High thyroid can cause the heart to beat faster and create a direct impact.

12. Menstrual Cycle Issues

More extended menstruation periods and more massive flow or additional cramps are an indication of hypothyroidism when thyroid hormones are in short supply.

In patients with hyperthyroidism, TH levels can impact menstrual issues in different ways. Periods are more concise, further apart, and very light. There’s a secure link between irregular menstrual cycles and thyroid issues.

Remedies for Thyroid Problems

Yogic postures and breathing exercises can help in restoring the balance in hormone secretion from thyroid glands. Staying hydrated is also essential to ensure the optimal functioning of the thyroid glands. Drink 10-12 glasses of water each day to lower the weight and benefit from thyroid regulation.

Foods rich in vitamin A like carrots, pumpkins, green leafy veggies can be the best foods for treating thyroid. Another vitamin that helps thyroid patients is vitamin E.

Flaxseeds are another common home remedy for thyroid problems. High levels of omega-three fatty acids in flax seeds regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland, treating the problem effectively. Try powdered flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

Another source of omega fatty acids is walnut. It gives the required levels of iodine the body needs to regulate the gland. Try coconut oil to ward off thyroid problems, too.

[Read: Supplements to Treat Thyroid]

Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids which bring about a change in the metabolic rate and lower thyroid problems. Get enough vitamin D and also opt for sea vegetables, such as seaweed, as these are the best sources of iodine.

So, there you have it! Try these simple solutions and tips and do watch out for indications of thyroid problems. While thyroid issues come with a lot of symptoms, there are also many warning signs of this condition. Do lookout out for the signals your body is trying to send you, so that good health remains in your hands.

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