Located above the Adam’s apple, your thyroid produces thyroid hormone (TH), which regulates, among other things, your body’s temperature, metabolism and heartbeat. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disease.
Problems can occur when your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism). Here’s how to tell if you are having thyroid troubles:
- You’re exhausted. If you’re still tired in the morning or all day after a full night’s sleep, your thyroid may be underactive. With hyperthyroidism, you may experience insomnia during the night that leaves you exhausted during the day.
- You feel anxious or depressed. Depression or anxiety can be symptoms of thyroid disease.
- Your neck is swollen. Swelling in your neck, a visibly enlarged neck, difficulty swallowing or a hoarse voice can be signs of thyroid disease. You may also experience pain in your muscles and joints.
- Your skin is dry or you’re losing your hair. Thyroid troubles often affect your skin and hair. Your skin may become dry and scaly. Your hair may become thin and start to fall out.
- Your bowels are unpredictable. People with hypothyroidism often complain of constipation. An overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.
- You have period problems. Heavier and more frequent periods are linked to hypothyroidism. Women with hyperthyroidism often experience shorter, lighter or infrequent periods.
- You’ve gained weight. Weight gain is one of the top reasons women see their doctor. It’s also one of the top indicators of an underactive thyroid. Unexplained weight loss can also indicate a thyroid problem.
- You have high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels unresponsive to diet, exercise or cholesterol-lowering medications can be signs of undiagnosed hypothyroidism.
If you have one or more of these symptoms or have a family history of thyroid problems, see your doctor.
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