11 Hidden Signs You Might Have a Thyroid Problem

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By: , – Healthy Eating Expert
3/7/2013 10:00 AM   :  58 comments   :  288,369 Views

If you are a Dancing with the Stars fan, you are likely familiar with co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet’s recent surgery to remove her thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, Brooke’s history with thyroid issues is not unique; an estimated 27 million Americans (including myself) are living with a thyroid condition. Fortunately, thyroid conditions are treatable; however, they can be tricky to diagnose since the symptoms tend to be subtle and can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other health issues. Here are some of the most common red flags to watch out for.

First things first: What is the thyroid?
The thyroid gland is one of several endocrine glands in the body. This butterfly-shaped gland is in the neck just below the larynx (voice box). Your thyroid gland makes hormones that help control the function of many of your body’s organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.

What is thyroid disease?
There are a variety of diseases and conditions that cause the thyroid to malfunction. Two of the most common thyroid conditions are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
 
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and unable to produce enough hormones to meet the body’s needs. This can occur because of a birth defect, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, an autoimmune disease, goiter or nodules.
 
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces more hormones than the body can use. The autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Multiple nodules, thyroiditis and excessive iodine intake can also contribute to overproduction issues.

It is also possible to get cancer of the thyroid, as was the case for Brooke Burke-Charvet. Although thyroid cancer rates are on the rise, it still remains one of the most treatable types of cancer.

What are the symptoms of a thyroid condition?
Thyroid issues can be difficult to spot at first since many of the symptoms are also indicative of other health conditions. The symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can also vary in severity from person to person. If you have other medical conditions, symptoms associated with those conditions may be more severe due to underlying thyroid issues. The cause of thyroid disease, severity of thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the correct levels of hormones all affect symptom severity.

Here are some signs to look for that might indicate a thyroid condition:
  • Feeling run down, exhausted, drowsy and/or fatigued, even with proper rest
  • Feelings of depression or lack of interest in things previously enjoyed
  • Increased and/or heavier menstrual periods, PMS, fertility/miscarriage issues
  • Constipation, even with adequate fiber intake
  • Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty learning or feeling like you are in a ''fog''
  • Unexplained weight gain beyond a few pounds, increased fluid retention and/or puffy face
  • Dry and/or itchy skin, even with regular moisturizer use.
  • Dry, brittle nails and hair (with or without  thinning)
  • Hoarse voice and/or difficulty swallowing
  • Intolerance to cold, especially in extremities such as fingers and toes
  • Muscle cramps
If you have been experiencing many of the above symptoms, speak with your doctor about screening your thyroid hormone levels to rule out a possible condition. Don't put off getting tested just because your symptoms seem like ''normal'' everyday ailments (fatigue, forgetfulness, etc.). With the proper care, it's completely possible to lift the fog and feel like yourself again.

Do you have a thyroid condition (or know someone who does)? What symptoms did you experience that made you seek help?


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Comments

  • 8
    My dad's thyroid numbers were not out of range, but very close. Comparing bloodwork results, they noticed that the numbers were getting closer to the edge over the past couple of years, so they were able to convince the doctor that it was worth a shot, and now his numbers are getting back to mid-range and he is feeling better that way. We think my mom has been hypothyroid most of her life, but she cannot afford a doctor right now, so I am keeping an eye on my numbers when I have bloodwork done. - 3/7/2013   12:17:08 PM
  • 7
    I have 7 of the 11 mentioned symptoms. I am 30 now, but did have my thyroid tested when I was 21, and they said my thyriod was fine. But the fatigue is super annoying, I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but I always wake up tired and hit the snooze button for a hour every morning because I dont want to get up. I definitely have a lack of interest in tons of things that I use to do and enjoy. I am always freezing! It doesn't matter if its 80 degrees, if I'm in the shade, I'm cold. My fingers and toes are purple/blue-ish often from being cold too.

    I'm now considering asking my dr. to recheck this when I go in for my physical. - 3/7/2013   12:00:45 PM
  • 6
    I have been going to the doctor for YEARS and haven't felt right or normal since I was 11 years old. The doctors always said "sounds like you have a thyroid problem." Then, after being slave to their blood tests would tell me everything was fine and in my head. Then, several years ago, I had a full body scan (the ones they tell you are a waste and not to get), and guess what they found? A thyroid FILLED with nodules, some of which were compound. I went to the endocrinologist for a workup up and biopsy (no cancer, thank God), and she put me on levothyroxin to keep the thyroid from producing its own so it might shrink. Meanwhile, in spite of the fact that the blood tests have NEVER shown my levels being off, she continues to use it as a marker and won't increase my meds, even though I have weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, brain fog... Just know that doctors are absolutely reluctant to change their procedure even though it clearly doesn't work in every case. She said I must have had the problem from childhood because of how bad it is, and yet NOT ONE doctor found the problem. Had to be caught accidentally on a scan. - 3/7/2013   11:51:22 AM
  • 5
    My wife was diagnosed first. Her Hypothyroid was 'off the charts' (physically beyond the scale that they measure hypothyroidism) and was recalled by the lab to re-do the tests. It took YEARS to be diagnosed because she has a natural metabolism that keeps her fairly thin. It took a long time to get her thyroid managed and during that time we also discovered her intolerance to gluten. Once on a GF diet, the exhaustion we attributed to the hypothyroid was managed as well.

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroid, our foster son was diagnosed during a regular exam, and our dog was diagnosed with hypothyroidism as well. WEIRD. - 3/7/2013   11:49:08 AM
  • 4
    I didn't have any symptoms. My gynecologist found it when doing normal blood tests during my yearly checkup. So make sure you are being tested for thyroid function even if you have no symptoms. Levothyroxine has kept me stable for 1.5 years now. - 3/7/2013   10:53:22 AM
  • 3
    Just as an aside, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1993. I had no symptoms. I was "euthyroid", which is neither hypo-thyroid or hyper-thyroid. When I was at my gynecologist, she started her exam by palpating my neck - and found a nodule, and after several tests, it was found to be cancerous. I have taken synthroid ever since, and will for the rest of my life. Since my treatment I've had no further problems. - 3/7/2013   10:46:03 AM
  • 2
    It is so important for women especially those of us over 40 to get a thyroid check. Don't depend only on the TSH number either. If you feel there is something wrong make sure your doctor takes you seriously and do a full profile at least. I was hypothyroid for a number of years and the doctor always said to lose weight, get active, etc. I noticed the dry brittle hair and nails, the thinning hair, fluid retention in my feet,and then the extreme weight gain, brain fog and fatigue. Then two years ago I got lucky, and had recently changed doctors and had a long conversation with the new doctor (female). I told her how depressed I was and how I had gained 30 lbs in 6 months even though I was very active and how difficult thinking was becoming. I joked that I had early onset of alzhemiers. She said simply that it sounded like my thyroid was off and sent me for a test the same day. As soon as she got the results she called me in and gave me a prescription. (at that time it was Senthoid) We have been managing my condition even since, changing drugs and dosage until my tests read "normal" and we contine to monitor it every couple months. Get a good doctor and because the symptoms are so subtle, it is easy to say it is all in your head. Make sure that it is your head and not your thyriod because if it is the thyroid it can be treated. If it is in your head, well you may need another type of treatment and/ or doctor. lol - 3/7/2013   10:44:40 AM
  • FIRECOM
    1
    I have been prescribed Levothyroxine for some time now but was not diagnosed with either of the conditions listed in this article. I am going to investigate this. - 3/7/2013   10:34:32 AM

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