11 Hidden Signs You Might Have a Thyroid Problem

By , Healthy Eating Expert
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?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I noticed the article gave no symptoms of hyperthyroid. That can be very dangerous. Florence Griffith-Joyner died as a result of hyperthyroid (Graves disease). Weight loss (without really changing up eating or exercise), tremors in the hands, heart palpitations are a few of the symptoms. I was diagnosed as hyperthyroid and saw an endocrinologist for about a year. My levels are normal now, thanks to some meds, but the doctors always run a routine thyroid check. Report
This may have been mentioned already but natural supplements are available. I take levothyroxine from my pharmacy for T4 replacement but alternate with a natural thyroid to get the T3 also. I do much better having the T3 in addition. It is not in the synthetic pills supplied by pharmacies. I get my natural thyroid from Swanson online. Report
When I was in my 20's, I was told by my internist, dentist, GYN,and endocrinologist that I had a large goiter and eventually my thyroid would need help. They said it was like a factory working overtime until it can work no longer.i was given a test to see if I had thyroid cancer which was negative. I have had most of those symptoms for thirty years. Since I moved to FL ten years ago, I am told I have no goiter. Can it disappear? Report
I would be wary of the Low Normal test results.Twelve years ago I had a doctor who wouldn't help me for that, but another Alternative Doctor did hair testing and said it was more accurate. He said that at times the blood levels are not an indicator of what is in your Thyroid tissue. He treated me and most of my symptoms improved. I am still on Throid, but I use Armour Thyroid which is natural, as well as a generic Cytomel. Both these low doses seem to work well for me.
I have hypothyroidism and have been taking levothyroxine for well over a decade. It's helped me out a lot. But my sister-in-law started taking levothyroxine and it seemed she then got dementia. She stopped taking the medication and some things got better, but she really did need synthetic thyroid. It took a lot of tries to get her medication correct - so just be prepared to work with your doctor or specialist.

Taking thyroid is interesting. Most medications are recommended to be taken when you have something to eat. Thyroid is the opposite. They recommend you take it on an empty stomach - four hours after you last ate. And preferably hours before you eat again, although that can vary. I've started to take my pill during the middle of the night and that works well for me. I wonder what works well for others?? Report
I have experienced both. Lost weight, became hyper, could not sleep, nervous. Then see a Dr and after some treatment gave me the "Iodine cocktail" that disolves the thyroid. Then had to take thyroid replacement.........synthroid ...I get regular blood work and good to go now Report
Thank you for posting this blog. It was very informative. Report
I have all but one of the symptoms above. Blood test came back with the TSH level in the low normal range. Doctors won't help me...I am so tired of feeling this way! I am pre-diabetic and my father and all 3 brothers are diabetic. I have to wonder why doctors don't err on the side of caution and just try treating the thyroid for a trial period and let's see what happens! Report
I was diagnosed with thyroid disease about 10 years ago after seeking out a specialist on my own since my primary doc said nothing was wrong. 3 years ago at a check up with my endocronologist they discovered nodules on my thyroid. After a biopsy came back inconclusive I had the left side of my thyroid removed. Post surgery lab results came back that I had cancer. Thankfully it had not spread and was removed early enough before causing any damage. I'm now in the process of scheduling the remainder of my thyroid to be removed, it also now has nodules and I am NOT going to mess around with it any longer.
There are so many common symptoms that can be linked to Thyroid disease that get overlooked by a General Practitioner. My advice to anyone out there who really suspects that something is going on with their thyroid is to see a specialist! No matter how great your GP is they are not trained to identify some of the more minute detials that may indicate there is a problem. Report
Thank you for reminding me that it is important to follow through when medical test results do not concur with physical symptoms. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism since my high school years. There was a period of time when I discontinued Levothyroxine and the outcome was let's say, miserable. I had no idea that hypothyroidism could have such wide reaching effects. Difficult when symptoms mirror so many other health problems. In my case, it was a little bit of this and that, and a whole lot thyroid problems. We must continue to advocate for ourselves! Report
I have several symtoms of hypthroidism but since my tests come back within the normal range, the condition has been dismissed by my Doctor, I took an article in a magazine to her which suggested that the free T, T4, and reverse T3 tests to identify type 2 hypothroidism but she sais the lab would not run these tests if the regular tests were normal? She even dismissed a supplement for the throid which was mentioned in the article. Where do I go from here? Report
I was just diagnosed with hyperthyroid. I haven't gone to an endocrinologist as of yet but I'm hoping for a good one. I experience a lot of these symptoms and my doctor has me on high blood pressure pills. I'm leaning towards getting an integrative medicine doctor or naturalpathic doctor because they seem to address the underlying causes instead of just given you a drug to take. It's mostly something that is causing the thyroid to respond like it is. That is why some people still have symptoms after taking meds. Report
My hypothyroid condition was missed for years, even after being tested for it. It wasn't until I went to an endocrinologist instead of seeing my regular GP that it was discovered. My TSH, T3 and T4 numbers were all within normal ranges, but on the very extreme ends of normal. My doctor told me that the ranges don't take into consideration a person's age and that my numbers would be fine for someone in their 60's, but were completely wrong for someone in their mid 20's. I have been taking levothyroxine for 7 years now and it has completely changed my life. I have energy again, I no longer suffer from depression, and I can get by on 8 hours of sleep like a normal person without having to take additional naps during the day. Report
I am sharing my experience...I feel that think that the best doctor to treat every thyroid condition is an endocrinologist .I used to go to an Internist and really had a problem when I had shingles.My low throid flipped to high and he did not take care of me properly.My GYN told me to go to an endocrinologist.Discovered that the Internist had me on double the amount of Levothyroxine which kept me hungry all the time..Have been on correct amount and am doing great.Have lost about 18 lbs.Have hugh energy .Am walking my dog and working in the yard again. am 77 years young. Report
I have been having alot of these same systoms for years, but my Doctor says I'm in the normal range. She says its from my fibromyalgia, but I just had an MRI done of my neck and they found some spot on my thyroid. Now I have to go get an ultra sound done. My mother's side of the family are all on thyroid medication. Even some of the small children. If it is my thyroid I hope some medication will help me feel better. I'm tired of feeling sick and tired. Report
I'm on the other end of the spectrum here, with Graves Hyperthyroidism. Which was great when the weight was falling off of me (although the rest of the symptoms not so good). So as we fixed that problem, I put on weight and then some. I was convinced that I could not lose the weight as long as I was on the medicine, and that the medicine was pushing me closer to hypo.

Eventually, I got tired of waiting to get better, and started exercising -- and joined Spark. I now believe that my thyroid is well controlled, with medicine; I am able through diet and exercise to lose weight and be healthy; and previously I was using my condition as an excuse.

For some, it is easy to blame it on your thyroid. Being fit and proper weight takes work! Get out there and move, consider what you eat. You can do it, and spark can help.

But if you truly believe that you are having a problem, and your doctor is not hearing you (as many of the comments here suggest), you might want to try another doctor. An endocrinologist that specializes in thyroid would be best.

It is a complicated system that affects so much of our bodies, it is definitely worth it to get things in the right range and work with your doctor for a treatment that is best for you. Report
Another thing that it is important to be aware of, is that if you are hypothyroid you are at much greater risk of developing diabetes than the general population, and especially if your father had diabetes. Report
I had experienced many of these symptoms and was tested in November - but thyroid levels came out normal! A relief but at the same time frustrating because I just want to get back to normal. Working on some dietary changes now in the hopes that it will provide some relief. Report
I have hypo - Armour thyroid meds work best for me - it is pig thyroid - also for constipation try putting a scoop of chia seeds in a bottle of water in the morning - shake as soon as you put them in - I also eat another scoop in my yogurt at lunch - it works when no amounts of fiber did - I have also learned that I can't eat over 950 tp 1000 calories a day to get the lbs off and I also workout everyday - 2 days with a trainer - I can't count those calories burned at the gym - get your mind in the right place cuz you can do everything right and still results are so slow - also I take meds morning and night so they stay in my system. Started at 228 - now at 177 - I figure I still have a couple of years to get to my goal! Good luck!
I was diagnosed about 14years ago with hypo. There's some dietary restrictions (soy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc) that should be mentioned so if one is on medication, one isn't counter-acting what the medication is trying to do. Report
I was diagnosed with hypo about 36 years ago. My father had it and both my sons were told to be tested when they reached 20. Both are on meds. My grandchildren are to be tested when they reach their teenage years as it seems to be getting diagnosed 10 years earlier than the previous generation. I was extremely cold....I was under a blanket with a hot water bottle and it was nearly 100' outside!.. and had a tingly feeling when I touched my shins. I was told I probably would never get proper feeling back in my big toes. I have been on meds ever since then. Report
How ironic that this post comes this morning! My doctor just found a nodule on my thyroid, and I'm going to an endocrinologist for further testing. I'm not a doctor by any means, but I have so many of the symptoms listed above. I'll wait for the official diagnosis, of course, but it would explain a LOT of things that I've been experiencing lately. Thanks for sharing. Report
I started taking a herbal thyroid supplement and the difference has been night and day. Even if your doctor says your thyroid is in the normal range it may be on the low end of that range and a herbal supplement may help. Report
@IAMABIGFATLOSER...I had several nodules. They also caused problems swallowing and I could feel them pressing against my throat whenever I bent over. I couldn't wear turtlenecks because they were too tight. I was overweight, but not by a lot and probably nothing to do with my thyroid as it's something I've always struggled with, but that's what I attributed the uncomfortable feeling in my neck to. My hair was thinning, however. My thyroid levels were always were slightly out of the normal range. I have two sisters who had their thyroids removed...one overactive, one underactive. I didn't look forward to the surgery, but finally had my thyroid removed when it just became too uncomfortable. There is a less invasive type of surgery available, but because my nodules were so large they couldn't do that one. If I had had a better doctor from the start, that might have been an option. PS...it was my hairdresser who noticed my thinning hair and suggested I get my thyroid looked at, but my numbers were normal at that point. When I went for a physical a year or two after that my dr saw the goiter pretty much right away. I didn't even know it was there! Report
I have several of the symptoms including hair loss but the doctors believe there's nothing wrong because the most recent test was in the normal range even though the two before that were both out of range. My mom and grandmother were on thyroid medicine for years because they both had problems. Report
I have had a multi-nodular goiter for about 12 years. Had biospy back in 2001 and not cancerous. But my thyroid continues to grow. My levels have always been normal. Dr's say there isn't much to do until levels are off, but I am tired, have thinning hair and sometimes my thyroid is so big (it goes up and down) it presses on my throat. Was wondering if anyone knows anyone with similar experience that has advice. I have a very hard time losing weight, yet my dr said I will go overactive at some point. So confusing and frustrating. Report
I have many of the symptoms, am on thyroid meds........I believe my weight gain has to be due to this. I am gaining while dieting and not doing anything different than when I was able to lose a few lbs a year ago! So discouraged from eating healthy and no results!! Report
My mom and all her 6 sisters have Hypo. I have been tested and showed negative.
I have all the s/s. I have read many articles on it, and from working in the medical field have understood that you may carry the gene, and show s/s, but not be positive in your blood. Report
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 5 years ago. I noticed it when my hair was falling out. Even with medication, I still suffer from all of these symptoms, though my blood work comes back normal. Does anyone else that has been diagnosed and treated still show symptoms? Thanks! Report
They missed a symptom on their list hair falling out. I have been getting my thyroid checked since i was 20. I am now 37. I have all the symptoms and have had a goiter in the past. Strong family history of hypothyroidism. My test come back as i am fine. Very fustrating. Very hard to lose weight or maintain weight. Some days it's difficult to get out of bed. I keep chucking away and hope one day ill be my hyper active self again. Stay beautiful my friends. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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 Report
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. Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.