Did you know that about 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem, but the majority don’t even know it? When your thyroid doesn’t function, it can affect every aspect of your health, particularly weight, depression and energy levels.
But wait a minute! What’s the thyroid again? It’s a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, and it’s the master gland of metabolism.
Since undiagnosed thyroid problems (such as hypothyroidism, where the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism, where too much of the hormone is made) can dramatically increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, infertility and a host of other symptoms and health problems, it’s important that you stay on top of how healthy your thyroid is.
Here are some of the most common signs that you may have a thyroid condition (remember that you don’t need to have all the listed symptoms in order to have thyroid trouble):
1. Hair & Skin Changes
Hair and skin are particularly vulnerable to thyroid conditions. With hypothyroidism, hair frequently becomes brittle, coarse and dry, while breaking off and falling out easily. Skin can become coarse, thick, dry, and scaly, and there can also be an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of the eyebrow. With hyperthyroidism, severe hair loss can also occur, and skin can become fragile and thin.
2. Bowel Problems
Severe or long-term constipation is frequently associated with hypothyroidism, while diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with hyperthyroidism.
3. Muscle and Joint Pains
Aches and pains in your muscles and joints, weakness in the arms and a tendency to develop carpal tunnel in the arms and hands (or tarsal tunnel in the legs) can all be symptoms of undiagnosed thyroid problems.
4. Neck Discomfort
A feeling of swelling in the neck, discomfort with turtlenecks or neckties, a hoarse voice or a visibly enlarged thyroid can all be symptoms of thyroid disease.