If you're not feeling quite right and have been looking for answers, it could be your thyroid. Low thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is extremely common. The thing is, while about 20 million people in the United States have some kind of thyroid disease, it is estimated that 60% of them don't even realize they do. Not only that, but women are 5-8 times more likely than men to develop issues with their thyroid gland; that means 1 in 8 women will battle thyroid disease at some point in their lives. That's staggering. Are you one of them? Here are a few clues that it might be time to be tested:
If you're getting 6 – 9 hours of sleep each night and you're still dragging, it could be a sign that your thyroid function isn't optimal. Hypothyroidism slows you down. You’d feel like your feet are a little extra heavy and you might have trouble keeping your eyes open.
Unexplained joint or muscle pain (or both!) can surface with hypothyroidism. Aching all over, without reason, and it doesn't seem to get better with rest? Your thyroid could be to blame. The hormones it secretes and regulates have a function in almost every cell in your body. When you aren't making enough, it can literally hurt.
Is everyone else in the room in short sleeves and you're practically shivering? If you don't have a cold or the flu and aren't running a fever, you might be feeling the effects of your inner temperature regulation being messed with. What regulates our body temperature normally, you ask? You guessed it, the thyroid gland.
Much like feeling cold above, the other extreme is sweating through your antiperspirant by noon and leaving armpit stains on your favorite shirts --- even if you aren't feeling hot. Then, you could go from sweaty to freezing and clammy in a heartbeat.
While it can be hard to talk about, a slow-down in digestion when combined with some of these other symptoms can also be a sign that your thyroid is slow. As your metabolism is partially regulated by your thyroid hormones, you could see sluggish and uncomfortable digestion stop you up.
While most people with low thyroid find unexplained weight gain (or weight they have had trouble losing despite diet and exercise) to be a problem, unexplained weight changes in either direction can be a red flag for thyroid disease.
Is your mane getting a little thin? Often, low thyroid causes hair loss, and sometimes the eyebrows will seriously thin out, too. So, if more than usual is hitting the shower floor you might be able to blame your thyroid.
Depression and Anxiety
One of the issues that many people face with getting a diagnosis for thyroid problems is that they first get a mental health diagnosis for their symptoms. Well, while many of the other symptoms that go along with hypothyroidism can also be chalked up to physical symptoms of anxiety and depression, sometimes it is all caused by one fussy gland in your neck. Don't put the horse before the cart. Treating the underlying thyroid condition --- when present --- can lift the anxiety and depression that it can cause.
Each symptom above will not occur in every single person with hypothyroidism, but if you are experiencing several of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to do something about it. Now, it is important to note that many thyroid symptoms are common to other health issues as well, which is why millions of people have a thyroid condition and don't even know it, so you will want to be tested to be certain. If your thyroid function comes back as normal, then your doctor may want to take things in another direction.
Do you have experience with hypothyroidism? We'd love to hear about what symptoms you've experienced, what you did about it, what helped, what didn’t help, etc. You never know, it might help someone else.