The thyroid is a gland in your neck, located just above the Adam’s apple. This small gland plays a big role in your body functioning efficiently. The gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate various functions, such as your heartbeat, metabolism and temperature. But in some instances, the thyroid gland can go a little haywire and not function properly. When this occurs, the gland can produce too much or too little thyroid hormone.
The two main types of thyroid problems include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when your gland is not producing adequate levels of the hormone. Hyperthyroidism develops when your gland goes into overdrive and produces excess hormones.
Thyroid problems are considered very common. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, about 30 million people in the United States have a thyroid problem, but many go undiagnosed.
The exact cause of thyroid problems is not always known. Some people develop thyroid problems after radiation therapy or due to an autoimmune disorder. Less commonly, thyroids disorders occur due to a genetic disorder, after pregnancy or a problem with the pituitary gland. Nutritional deficiencies and extreme stress may also be causes.
Risk factors for developing a thyroid problem may include being over the age of 60, having a family history of thyroid problems and having an autoimmune disorder. Gender is also a risk factor. Women develop thyroid problems more frequently than men.
Many of the signs of a thyroid problem are also associated with other conditions, which can make an accurate diagnosis difficult at times. But understanding the various signs can help you put together the pieces of the puzzle and get treatment. Below are several signs of a thyroid problem.
Everyone gets worn out at times. A bad night’s sleep, stress and being pulled in a million directions can lead to fatigue. But fatigue can also be a symptom of an underactive thyroid. If you’re always tired and fatigued regardless of how much rest you get, it could be due to hypothyroidism. For example, you may feel unable to do the things you used to, such as exercise or stay up past 9 o’clock. Fatigue may also be accompanied by cloudy thinking. You might feel as if your brain is not as sharp as it used to be.