The thyroid gland is located just below the Adam’s apple, on the front of your neck. This butterfly shaped gland produces thyroid hormones that regulates the body’s metabolism.
Any disruption in the normal level of thyroid hormones in your body, can cause several symptoms associated with thyroid problems.
Thyroid Hormone Production
Hypothalamus is a section of the brain, that produces various vital hormones. The Hypothalamus secretes Thyrotropin Releasing Hormones (TRH), which travel to the pituitary gland. There, the TRH signals the pituitary gland to release Thyrotropin or TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).
The TSH sails through the blood vessels to the thyroid gland, where it boosts the release and production of two thyroid hormones—L-Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid gland needs an adequate supply of iodine to produce these two hormones. When the body detects that there is a good supply of the thyroid hormones in the blood, the production of TRH and TSH are reduced. This in turn reduces the production of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of thyroid problems occur when the regulatory mechanism of the hormone system is disrupted.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism is the condition associated with the underproduction of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland slows down and this causes the body metabolism to slow down too. Hyperthyroidism is the condition associated with the overproduction of thyroid hormones. This causes the metabolism to reach high levels..
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
Whatever kind of thyroid problem you have, there are various signs from which you can tell that your butterfly-shaped gland is not doing its job properly. Women are more prone to suffer from thyroid disorders than men. If you are a woman over the age of 35, you should regularly check for the signs of thyroid disorders.
Here are some symptoms of thyroid problems:
If you feel drained and tired even after a full night’s sleep, your body may not be producing enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism translates into a slowed down metabolism. This means that your body is not getting enough energy from the calories to function properly.
If you feel hyper, unable to rest, your body could be flooded with a lot of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism overstimulates the body and that makes you feel anxious and full of nervousness.
Alertness And Concentration Are Affected
Hypothyroidism can affect your mental alertness and increase forgetfulness. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, disrupts attention span and reduces your concentration power.
Loss Of Interest In Sex
Hypothyroidism causes weight gain, a wide range of pains, and low energy levels, which could all contribute to a reduced sex drive.
Appetite And Taste
Hypothyroidism slows down the body metabolism, and can also affect your sense of taste and smell. Hyperthyroidism puts your metabolism in overdrive, and burns up a lot of calories, leaving you feeling hungry all the time.
Weight Gain Or Loss
Hypothyroidism and the resulting sluggish metabolism, indicates that calories you consume are not converted into energy and so you gain weight. Hyperthyroidism and the overactive metabolism on the contrary, leads to weight loss.
Do you feel your heart flutter from time to time? Too much thyroid hormones in the system (hyperthyroidism) can cause these heart flutters or palpitations.
Hypothyroidism can result in constipation, as the body metabolism slows down. Hyperthyroidism can have the opposite result, as an overactive metabolism can lead to diarrhoea.
Dry And Itchy Skin
Hypothyroidism can affect normal sweating. When the body does not produce enough sweat, the lack of moisture content on the skin can lead to a dry and flaky skin, and itching.
Menstrual Cycle Is Affected
A heavier flow and periods, that come closer together, can be a result of hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can result in shorter periods, spaced further apart.
Pain And Numbness
Unexplained twinges and twitches that affect the legs and hands can also indicate hypothyroidism. Reduced supply of thyroid hormones results in reduced energy production, and so there is disruption in normal functions of the body. This can eventually affect the nervous system and cause sudden aches and twinges.
Feeling Too Hot Or Too Cold
Hypothyroidism means less calories are burnt, and so there is less body heat, which leaves you feeling cold all the time. Hyperthyroidism and the overactive metabolism burns too many calories and so you can end up feeling too warm and you become sensitive to heat.
If your hair feels dry and brittle, you could be affected by hypothyroidism. Reduced thyroid hormone production affects new hair growth and the health of old hair.
Besides these symptoms, you should watch out for other problems like having difficulties in getting pregnant. You could also suffer from hypertension or increased blood pressure. These problems can be caused by both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can also cause an increase in LDL (Bad Cholesterol) levels.
Get Yourself Checked for symptoms of Thyroid Problems
If you notice a lot of these symptoms, You should see a doctor and have your thyroid levels checked. Many doctors still stick to conventional diagnostic tests like just TSH and T4 tests. You could also ask for Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Thyroid Antibodies tests.
Getting a timely diagnosis can help you deal with the problem quickly, and prevent complications.