One women in eight will develop a thyroid problem in her lifetime, but since symptoms can mask themselves as seemingly normal -- being tired or gaining weight -- it’s no wonder 60 percent of those with thyroid disease aren’t even aware there’s a problem.
Dr. Heather Corn, an endocrinologist at Alta View Hospital in Sandy, is here to help you know when to see a doctor.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland on the front of the neck. It produces metabolism-regulating hormones—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen—and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.
There are two types of thyroid disorders:
- Hypothyroidism means the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism accounts for about 90% of thyroid imbalances. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and weight gain.
- Hyperthyroidism means the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems and eye irritation.
When your thyroid is working correctly, your mood is generally stable, and you have enough energy, and but when it’s not working your whole world can seem off. Signs to look for:
Changes to your sleep cycle
Feeling sluggish and tired is associated with all types of medical problems, but if you’re spent – even after a full night’s sleep, it may be a sign that you don’t have enough thyroid in your body.
If you feel like sleeping all of the time, it could be hypothyroidism, and if you can’t sleep, it could be hyperthyroidism.
Feeling down in the dumps
Feeling down or unusually depressed can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Why? If you’re not getting enough of the thyroid hormone, it can impact serotonin levels that help you to feel good.
When your thyroid is out of whack, your cognitive function can take a hit. If you have trouble concentrating, it could be a sign of hyperthyroidism and if you find yourself forgetful more often than usual, it could be hypothyroidism. So if you feel like you’re walking around as a zombie, it might be a good idea to get your thyroid checked.
Unexplained weight changes
Sudden weight gain or loss can signal a thyroid disorder. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain and hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss. “I don’t look a weight alone as the only indicator of a thyroid issue, but sudden weight gain is usually what gets a patient into my office,” Corn said. “They’ll say they aren’t doing anything different to their diet, and the weight is piling on.”
Other symptoms to look for:
- Dry skin
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Hair loss
- Changes in body temperature
- Trouble getting pregnant
Visit www.IntermountainHealthcare.org for more information.
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