Your thyroid gland is a very small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck. Despite its size, the thyroid is critical to your health. It produces hormones that manage your metabolism, and if too much or too little thyroid hormone is produced, you can experience a variety of disorders. In fact, 59 million Americans suffer from either hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) or hypothyroidism (too little).
Here are ten signs you may have a thyroid problem:
1. Muscle and Joint Pain
Painful joints, weakness in your arms, or frequent carpal tunnel syndrome are all indicators of thyroid problems.
2. Neck Pain or Swelling
Discomfort in your neck, particularly when combined with red, swelling areas, is often a sign of an enlarged thyroid gland.
If you find yourself experiencing frequent fatigue, or if you are exhausted even after you’ve slept all night, this may be an indicator of thyroid dysfunction.
4. Changes in Your Hair or Skin
Hair loss is frequently an indicator of thyroid dysfunction, as is rough, dry and scaly skin.
5. Weight Changes
If you find you have trouble losing weight even when you diet and exercise, or if you cannot gain weight regardless of how much you eat, that may be a sign a thyroid problem is affecting your metabolism.
6. Bowel Issues
An extended period of painful constipation is a possible sign of thyroid problems, as is severe diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
7. Depression or Anxiety
If you have had no mental health problems in the past, and you suddenly develop depression or anxiety, with no major stress in your life, the problem may be physical, and related to your thyroid.
8. Menstrual Problems
If you are a woman whose periods have previously been normal, and they change drastically, that may be a sign of thyroid dysfunction. Your flow may increase, or it may be drastically reduced. You may experience more cramps.
If you have high cholesterol, and you have been unable to reduce it regardless of life changes, that may well be related to thyroid problems.
10. Family History
Thyroid issues tend to run in families. If you have first-degree relatives with thyroid problems, you should be on the lookout for symptoms, as well.