Thyroid disease affects as many as 20 million men and women in the United States — about 10% of the adult population. But alarmingly, nearly two-thirds of those people don’t even know they have a thyroid problem.
Without treatment, thyroid disease can lead to serious medical problems. Learning to recognize the signs of thyroid disease is one of the best ways to ensure you get the care you need as early in the disease process as possible.
With locations in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah, ENT Specialists provides patients with state-of-the-art treatment options for thyroid disease, along with the education they need to identify possible disease symptoms. Here are five symptoms you should know about.
#1: Fatigue or problems sleeping
We all feel tired out from time to time. But if your thyroid is underactive, you can wind up feeling tired most of the time. When the thyroid gland is underactive, your heart rate can slow, and even mild exercise can make you feel worn out.
Hyperthyroidism has the opposite effect. When the gland is overactive, your heart rate can increase. You might even notice palpitations. Some people with hyperthyroidism have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or they may experience night sweats that interrupt their sleep.
#2: Unexplained changes in weight
The thyroid gland plays a major role in regulating your metabolism, the process your body uses to turn food into energy that can be used by your body. In hyperthyroid disease, your thyroid gland “turns up” your metabolism, burning more calories at a faster rate than normal, which leads to weight loss without dieting. Hyperthyroidism may also result in an increased appetite.
On the flip side, hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down, which means you don’t burn as many calories. With a “slow” thyroid, you can wind up gaining weight, even if you’re not eating more. On top of all this, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause changes in your bowels, including diarrhea and constipation.
#3: Swelling or lumps in the neck
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower front part of your neck. The sides of the gland “wrap around” your throat, just below your voice box. If you notice general swelling in this area or individual lumps or nodules, that could be a sign of a thyroid problem.
Sometimes, swelling or lumps are a sign of cancer. But these signs are often benign — that is, noncancerous — developing simply because the gland is malfunctioning. In either case, swelling or growths must be evaluated as soon as possible.
#4: Anxiety or mood changes
Hyperthyroidism increases your body’s energy stores, which can cause general feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or “jitters.” If your thyroid is overactive, you might find it’s hard to relax, calm down, or turn your mind off after a busy day.
Conversely, a slow or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause feelings of depression, interfering with the chemical balance that controls mood. You might also find it hard to focus or concentrate at work.
#5: Unusual changes in body temperature
Along with regulating metabolism, the thyroid gland also helps your body maintain a normal temperature. With hypothyroidism, it can be harder for your body to stay warm. That means you may feel the cold more easily than other people.
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism speeds up your metabolism, burning more calories and increasing your body temperature. As a result, you can feel overheated, even in a cool environment.
Custom care for thyroid problems
A malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause a lot of changes in your health and your quality of life. The good news is, thyroid disease can be treated with medication or, when necessary, with surgery. If you’re having any of these symptoms, call the office or use our online form and book a visit to have your thyroid evaluated.