5 signs your thyroid isn’t working - and what you can do about it

The thyroid gland may be small but it can have a dramatic effect on your health should it falter. Here’s how to spot the signs of a thyroid problem.

If you’ve ever uttered the words: “Maybe I have a thyroid problem”, now is the time to investigate whether you really do.

Located in the neck, the butterfly-shaped gland is an essential part of the endocrine system, in that it plays a key role in keeping your body’s metabolic hormone levels in line and regulates all kinds of facets of health.

Furthermore, it tells your organs what to do and when, which means if it’s off-kilter, anything from your breathing to your heart rate, body weight and muscle strength can be affected.

The more ‘familiar’ thyroid conditions include hypothyroidism (underactive) and hyperthyroidism (overactive); but inflammation, enlarged and lumpy nodules can be diagnosed too – and in rare cases, thyroid cancer.

So it makes sense to learn a little more about it.

Although relatively common, problems can be difficult to diagnose – here are five symptoms that could well be signs of an underlying thyroid issue…

Energy highs and lows

Feeling super tired (despite getting ample sleep) or unusually full throttle can point to thyroid problems. If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, your body will be affected by an underproduction of hormones resulting in low energy levels, weakness and tiredness. In contrast, those dealing with an overactive strain may experience a caffeine-like high, complete with racing heart and jitters.

Fluctuating weight

One of the biggest red flags when it comes to the productivity of your thyroid is changes in weight. When your body has a depleting level of hormones, your metabolism will slow, causing weight gain; whereas those ramped up from an overactive thyroid will become over-efficient and result in loss. The condition may also have an effect on your appetite – either decreasing or invigorating it.

Mood changes

We all have good days and bad days but if your mood is all over the place more often than not, you may have an imbalance in your thyroid that needs checking out. While hypothyroidism can leave some people feeling depressed, hyperthyroidism can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and agitation.

Bowel inconsistencies

Just because your bowel is far away from the cause of the problem, doesn’t mean it remains unaffected. With digestion either stirred by an overactive thyroid or decelerating from an underactive one, our bowels act accordingly – either leading to an IBS-like state of recurrent bowel movements and diarrhoea or the opposite, constipation.

Skin and hair issues

Overactivity and underactivity of the thyroid gland can result in changes to the hair and skin, as well as the body. Expect dry patches of skin if you’re linked to hypothyroidism and vice versa, oiler skin, if hyperthyroidism is your issue. In addition, hair can become brittle and hair loss can occur in both cases.

If you’re suffering any of the above symptoms, contact your GP. While most thyroid disorders are quite common, they’re more likely to affect women than men, and pose further risk to females over 35.

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