How often do you listen to your body when it acts weird? How often do you listen to your body when you feel tired in the morning regardless of having 12 hours of sleep? Or when your hands just wouldn’t warm up even though you’ve never had that problem?
Most people are used to ignoring symptoms when they don’t think it’s a big deal. Bad news for you if you have thyroid issues. Thyroid problems are notorious for causing out-of-the-place and slow-acting symptoms.
Thyroid diseases affect more than 20 million Americans. It is more common than heart diseases! However, up to 50% of these Americans live their day-to-day life, bearing with the negative symptoms without getting diagnosed. For them, not feeling 100% is normal.
When your thyroid stop working as well as it should, you will start experiencing mild annoyances that will slowly escalate into a whole host of troubles for you.
How Does Your Thyroid Work?
Your thyroid affects many vital functions of your body like your heart rate, metabolism, sleep, and core body temperature. It interacts with the pituitary gland and the hippocampus to determine how much thyroid hormones to secrete.
Your thyroid hormones are circulated throughout your body in your bloodstream to keep every cell up and running. Your body needs a very specific amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream to function normally. Whenever the balance is upset, your thyroid tells you through a bunch of symptoms like chills, brain fog, and even infertility. If left untreated, you might end up with severe thyroid problems like goiter, thyroiditis, and even thyroid cancer.
As with any other diseases, you want to catch and treat thyroid diseases as soon as possible. So, watch out for some of these most common signs of thyroid problems.
Signs of Thyroid Diseases
Not being able to wake up in the morning despite having enough hours of sleep is a major red flag.
Your thyroid controls your energy levels and metabolism. It tells you if you’re ready to sleep. Low levels of thyroid hormones (a.k.a hypothyroidism) cause your body to slow down and become sluggish. Besides that, you can feel unmotivated and mentally tired.
Even with enough sleep, you don’t feel refreshed and rejuvenated. This condition is known as hypersomnia. Thyroid hormones can affect non-REM sleep, which is the sleep stage that resets our system. Without proper REM sleep, you will have difficulty waking up in the morning since you haven’t really slept. This disturbs your circadian cycle that will further disrupt your sleep cycle.
#2 Having chills
Your body is constantly burning calories. Even when you are sitting, you’re ‘working out’ through burning a small number of calories.
Burning calories generate heat. That’s why you feel especially hot and sweaty when you’re running. But because hypothyroidism mess with your metabolism, you don’t produce as much heat. About 40% of people with hypothyroidism are more sensitive towards cold than usual.
Wishing that the world could be warmer doesn’t automatically mean that you have a thyroid problem. Sometimes it could just mean that you’re more susceptible to cold. But if you are feeling chillier than usual, you might want to get your thyroid checked out.
#3 Unusual weight change
Unexpected weight gain or weight loss can also be a sign of thyroid issues.
When you have low thyroid hormones in your system, you tend to rest more and move less. This can be a cause for weight gain. Besides that, your basal metabolic rate also decreases when you have hypothyroidism. Because of this, your body holds on to fat from the calories you consume.
We all know how eating more contributes to weight gain. Hyperthyroidism does exactly that: your appetite increases and you eat more. Hyperthyroidism might also cause excessive weight loss. Since having an overactive thyroid increases your basal metabolic rate, you need more calories to maintain your body weight. If your increased appetite and consumed calories can’t keep up to your metabolic rate, you’ll soon experience more weight loss than you want.
Some people naturally have a slower or faster metabolic rate. So sometimes weight fluctuations are just how your body works. But if you haven’t made any changes to your lifestyle but still noticing weight changes, you might have a thyroid issue on your hands.
#4 Feeling down and/or experiencing depression
Sometimes, depression might have started from your neck instead of your brain.
Although the reasons are unknown, feeling down and depression have long been associated with thyroid issues. Between sluggishness and trouble with concentration, you might mistake thyroid-related low mood for depression.
One study showed that 64% of women and 57% of men with hypothyroidism reported feelings of depression and anxiety. Some people with hypothyroidism also experienced lower sexual desire, which fuels feelings of anxiety and depression because of sexual dissatisfaction.
Besides that, some women are also affected by postpartum thyroiditis. Symptoms from postpartum thyroiditis can heavily mimic postpartum depression symptoms, which could be very difficult and dangerous for the new mother.
#5 Trouble concentration
Think of the last time you had to work after two hours of sleep. You can’t focus. You kept nodding off. It isn’t pleasant, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, mental fogginess is part and parcel of thyroid problems. People with hyperthyroidism often report poorer concentration. You don’t get off the hook if you have hypothyroidism either. Aside from brain fog, you might also experience short term memory loss and trouble focusing.
In rare cases, you can also get hyperthyroid dementia, which is a form of reversible dementia. In one study, a 67-year-old man suspected of dementia was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease instead – an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism. Once given thyroid medication, the dementia symptoms were alleviated and he was good as day.
Since your thyroid affects so many of your bodily functions, it doesn’t make sense to not keep a lookout for it. Thyroid diseases are tricky to diagnose and treat, but they are completely irreversible if you catch it on time.
If you’ve noticed, none of the symptoms on the list are unique to thyroid diseases. However, they do have a nasty tendency to sneak up on you and make themselves a part of your life. By the time you decide enough is enough, you might have to control thyroid diseases with medication for your whole life.
The key here is to be aware of what your body is telling you. If you experience these symptoms out of the blue, or that they became worse all of a sudden, it might be a good time to get yourself sorted out.
Thankfully, treating thyroid diseases in their early stages are fairly inexpensive. You can try to control your thyroid condition with a proper diet. Besides that, there are also tons of reputable thyroid supplements on the market that cater to your needs. Some patients instantly feel better, but some take a couple of weeks longer.