Silent Thyroid Symptoms
THE THYROID, A BUTTERFLY-shaped gland in the neck, produces hormones essential for metabolism and brain activity. Symptoms of a thyroid problem are often vague, but if you notice any of the following signs or have more than one, see your doctor for a simple blood test to gauge your hormone levels.
The symptoms of an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid are both easily treated.
1 SLEEP CHANGES
If you’ve always been a good sleeper but suddenly can’t snooze through the night, it could signal a thyroid problem. An overactive thyroid pumps out certain
hormones (triiodothyronine, known as T3, and thyroxine, known as T4) in excess, which can overstimulate the central nervous system and lead to insomnia, says Dr Hossein Gharib, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist.
On the flip side, if you still feel tired after a full night’s sleep (or need to sleep more than usual), you might have an underactive thyroid, in which your body doesn’t produce
2 SUDDEN ANXIETY
If you’ve never struggled with anxiety but start to feel consistently anxious, your thyroid might be overactive. Too many thyroid
hormones often cause patients to feel anxious unrelated to anything specific, says Dr Ashita Gupta, an endocrinologist.
3 CHANGES IN BOWEL HABITS
Frequent constipation could be an underactive thyroid symptom. “Thyroid hormones also play a role in keeping your digestive track running,” says Gupta. “If you produce too little, things get backed up.” An overactive thyroid can create the opposite effect.
4 THINNING HAIR
Another thyroid symptom is thinning hair, particularly on your eyebrows. An underactive or overactive thyroid throws off your hair growth cycle, says Gupta. Usually, most of your hair grows while a small portion rests. When thyroid hormones are imbalanced, too much hair rests at one time, which means hair looks thinner.
5 SWEATING AT RANDOM TIMES
Excessive sweating when you’re not exerting yourself is a common sign of an overactive thyroid. The thyroid regulates the body’s energy production. Higher-thannormal hormone levels mean your metabolism is revved up, which causes people to feel overly warm.
6 UNUSUAL WEIGHT GAIN
If your jeans feel snug but you haven’t changed your eating or exercise habits, an underactive thyroid might be to blame. “Lack of hormones decreases metabolism and kilojoule burning, so you may see gradual but unexplained weight gain,” says Gharib.
7 FEELING RAVENOUS BUT NOT GAINING WEIGHT
On the other hand, if you’re suddenly able to squeeze into smaller-size clothes that haven’t fitted into in years – without a major change to your diet or workout regimen – you may have an overactive thyroid, which causes an increase in metabolism.
8 BRAIN FOG
With an underactive thyroid, some people report feeling a ‘brain fog’, says Gupta. Others report subtle memory loss or overall mental fatigue. An overactive thyroid can make it difficult to concentrate.