How to Tell if You Have a Thyroid Disorder

Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes throughout the body.

The thyroid gland is located below the Adam’s apple wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). A thin area of tissue in the gland’s middle, known as the isthmus, joins the two thyroid lobes on each side.

How To Tell If You Have A Thyroid Disorder
The thyroid uses iodine to produce vital hormones. The function of the thyroid gland is regulated by a feedback mechanism involving the brain. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone that causes the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) to release thyroid stimulating hormone.

Since the thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, disorders of these tissues can also affect thyroid function and cause thyroid problems.

At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder and 15 million are silent sufferers who go undiagnosed. Women are as much as 10 times as likely as men to have a thyroid problem. If you’re a woman over 35 your odds of a thyroid disorder are high, more than 30%, by some estimates.

The thyroid produces thyroid hormone to regulate, (among other things) your body’s temperature, metabolism, and heartbeat. Issues arise when your thyroid is under- or over-active. If your thyroid is sluggish, it’s producing too little hormone. If it’s amped-up, it’s producing too much.

Causes & Symptoms Of Thyroid Issues

This could stem from genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment. Diagnosing a disorder can be challenging, so here’s how to tell if your thyroid could be on the blink.

Sudden Weight Gain/Sudden Weight Loss
Going up a few pounds can be caused by so many things. However, weight gain is one of the top symptoms of a thyroid problem. If you’re gaining weight, and you aren’t eating any more than usual, or you are exercising, but not getting results, it can be due to an under-active thyroid.

On the other end of the scale, a sudden weight loss can signal hyperthyroidism.

Exhaustion/Fatigue
Feeling tired and having no energy are issues associated with all sorts of different conditions, but they’re strongly linked with hypothyroidism, which is the disorder that becomes the result of too little thyroid hormone. If you’re still tired in the morning or all day after a full night’s sleep, that’s a clue that your thyroid may be underactive. This means you don”t have enough thyroid hormone in your bloodstream and cells, so your muscles aren’t getting a signal to get-going. Fatigue is the number one symptom, and that’s a clue that you’re not simply sleep deprived; your thyroid may be under-active.

Depression
Feeling unusually depressed or sad can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. It is thought that the production of too little thyroid hormone can have an impact on levels of “feel good” hormone serotonin in the brain. An under-active thyroid effects other body systems, so it’s not surprising that your mood might sink there, too.

Sleep Patterns Are Messed Up
If you feel like you want to sleep all of the time, it could be caused by hypothyroidism. A sluggish thyroid can slow bodily functions down to the point where sleeping (even in the daytime) seems like a brilliant idea.

However, if you can’t sleep, it could be hyperthyroidism, as an overactive thyroid can cause anxiety and rapid pulse, which can make it hard to fall asleep or even wake you in the middle of the night.

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