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11 Hidden Signs You Might Have a Thyroid Problem

By , Healthy Eating Expert
An estimated 27 million Americans (including myself) are living with a thyroid condition. Fortunately, thyroid conditions are treatable; however, they can be tricky to diagnose since the symptoms tend to be subtle and can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other health issues. Here are some of the most common red flags to watch out for.

First things first: What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is one of several endocrine glands in the body. This butterfly-shaped gland is in the neck just below the larynx (voice box). Your thyroid gland makes hormones that help control the function of many of your body’s organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.

What is thyroid disease?

There are a variety of diseases and conditions that cause the thyroid to malfunction. Two of the most common thyroid conditions are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and unable to produce enough hormones to meet the body’s needs. This can occur because of a birth defect, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, an autoimmune disease, goiter or nodules.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces more hormones than the body can use. The autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Multiple nodules, thyroiditis and excessive iodine intake can also contribute to overproduction issues.

It is also possible to get cancer of the thyroid. Although thyroid cancer rates are on the rise, it still remains one of the most treatable types of cancer.

What are the symptoms of a thyroid condition?

Thyroid issues can be difficult to spot at first since many of the symptoms are also indicative of other health conditions. The symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can also vary in severity from person to person. If you have other medical conditions, symptoms associated with those conditions may be more severe due to underlying thyroid issues. The cause of thyroid disease, severity of thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the correct levels of hormones all affect symptom severity.

Here are some signs to look for that might indicate a thyroid condition:
  • Feeling run down, exhausted, drowsy and/or fatigued, even with proper rest
  • Feelings of depression or lack of interest in things previously enjoyed
  • Increased and/or heavier menstrual periods, PMS, fertility/miscarriage issues
  • Constipation, even with adequate fiber intake
  • Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty learning or feeling like you are in a ''fog''
  • Unexplained weight gain beyond a few pounds, increased fluid retention and/or puffy face
  • Dry and/or itchy skin, even with regular moisturizer use.
  • Dry, brittle nails and hair (with or without  thinning)
  • Hoarse voice and/or difficulty swallowing
  • Intolerance to cold, especially in extremities such as fingers and toes
  • Muscle cramps
If you have been experiencing many of the above symptoms, speak with your doctor about screening your thyroid hormone levels to rule out a possible condition. Don't put off getting tested just because your symptoms seem like ''normal'' everyday ailments (fatigue, forgetfulness, etc.). With the proper care, it's completely possible to lift the fog and feel like yourself again.

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NASFKAB 10/9/2019
useful Report
CATNAP629 8/3/2019
KHALIA2 5/23/2019
Good to know info! Thanks! Report
BONNIE1552 5/3/2019
Good to know. Thanks. Report
DRAGONFLY631 4/6/2019
Thanks for the info Report
SPARKNB 2/21/2019
Super hard to lose weight with hypo/Hashimoto's; have found the groups on spark dedicated to discussion about these to be super-informative Report
Do you know how DIFFICULT it is to lose weight with hypothyroid??? Its terrible, and the fatigue and exhaustion are horrible! Report
I don't have any of these systems but mine be under active. Thanks for the info Report
Nice article Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the interesting article :) Report
I have been suffering from thyroid disorder for a few months and was under the treatment at KIMS (trivandrum.kimsglobal.com). As of now I am having a euthyroid. This blog helped me in diagnosing the condition that led me to the doctor for a complete checkup. Thanks for the info. Report
My low thyroid explains a lot about my depression and difficulty in concentrating, it's not just grief. Report
I do have a low thyroid---- Report
Thanks for the info Report
good info Report
Really good information! Report
I have thyroid problems and this article is spot on. Report
Hypothyroidism us hard to cope with. Losing weight takes far more than just any diet but I am fighting it. Report
It is not only about getting diagnosed, but doing your homework on meds. I had many of the symptoms noted in the article and with blood work it was found that I had a thyroid issue but was also severely vitamin D deficient. The response was to treat the deficiency first and retest the thyroid. This gave me time to research and I am so glad I did as most doctors jump to put patients on a synthetic med when a natural hormone is available. I am not against synthetic meds but am happy that I insisted on trying Armour Thyroid first as it has worked well for me without many side effects at all. Totally recommend starting natural and only if it doesn't control your levels go to the synthetic. Report
Good subject, very informative. Report
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I had most of the symptoms and had to do the frequent lab work to adjust my medication. Then I had to have half my thyroid removed because of precancerous nodules. I gained 30 lbs after that. I am finally on a dosage that works for me. Hopefully I won't have to have the rest removed. Report
My mom had thyroid disease, she was on able to gain weight she was on medication for years. I haven't been diagnosed yet hopefully I won't have the same thing she did. Her thyroid was very low. Report
I have hypothyroid issues and take Synthroid, cytomil, and megadoses of Vit D also. One interesting symptom, which this article did not mention was that my eyebrows all fell out and have never come back. My mom had this same thing happen to her and she was told by her doc that it was another symptom of hypothyroidism.
I have Hashimoto's Disease and had to have a 4cm hemorrhagic cyst along with half of my thyroid gland removed surgically. I'm now hypothyroid and will take meds for the rest of my life. It all started when I first read an article about thyroid symptoms and asked my doctor to check my thyroid. Good article! Report
I guess I was lucky. Went to the Dr because my hands were shaking and had the sweats. She immediately sent me to an endocrinologist who diagnosed Graves disease. Now on medication and doing well. Report
I was physically very fit, ate well and exercised - yet I developed literally ALL of these symptoms, PLUS I have a family history. I practically had to jump up and down screaming to get my doctor to test me. I don't understand the reticence of doctors to test and treat.

Lo and behold, I came up with low numbers and am now on synthroid as well as mega-doses of vitamin D. What a world of difference! I now have energy to exercise again. :) Report
I probably had Hypothyroid for years before it was properly diagnosed. After surviving cancer & all its treatments my body went nuts, with most of the symptoms listed. My doctors said I was complaining because I was afraid of the cancer returning & refused to test further. Long story short we moved to Florida, I got a new GP - explained what was going on, she read through my chart shook her head and said "I'm sorry you had to wait, blood tests will find out what is happening to you" 1 week later the nurse called said my tests were back the doc wants to see you, & don't worry its not cancer. She took the time to go over what a full Thyroid panel is - what was happening , what I needed to do & sent me to a specialist ( had it pre approved by insurance) and now she manages my meds . Specialist gets copies of tests so he can review it. I feel much better now, my hair is back, as is my brain & energy. And the weight is coming off slow & steady ( just like I gained it) Life is much better now - all because a doctor listened to a patient! Imagine that! Report
The symptoms listed in the article seem to be more for hypothyroidism than for hyperthyroidism, which I had. My symptoms were: increased heart rate (even at rest), feeling hot all the time, unexplained weight loss, slight hand tremor (most noticeable in my handwriting or when holding a glass with ice in it - the ice cubes would rattle), and heavy fatigue. I was treated with radioactive iodine to partially destroy my thyroid. I have since been on a low dose of synthroid and have been doing fine for over 20 years. Report
I am on medication for hypothyroidism. I first found out that I had it after a long spell of clinical depression. The weight gain was not as noticable at first because it happened gradually, but eventually I experienced most of the symptoms mentioned in the blog above. It was a very frightening time. The usual blood tests for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is not enough because thyroid antibodies may be present that indicate an autoimmune thyroid disorder such a Hashimoto's. I was diagnosed in 2012 but still my blood tests have shown either I am over-medicated or under-medicated because it is such a fine balance, a little too much can be just as disruptive to the body as not quite enough. Hypo/Hyperthyoidism certainly needs more research. I live in the UK and there is only one medication that doctors are licenced to prescribe and that is Levothyroxine which is a bit of a bummer because it does not suit everbody. Other sufferers have to buy an alternative online from the USA but it's expensive. Report
Doctors are still not very savvy about the multiple causes of hypothyroidism. TSH levels only 'mark' one or two potential problem areas. There are 5 common causes of hypothyroidism (which is NOT necessarily the same as low TSH):

Hypothyroidism caused by pituitary dysfunction
Under-conversion of T4 to T3
Hypothyroidism caused by elevated TBG
Hypothyroidism caused by decreased TBG
Thyroid resistance Report
As someone else mentioned, if you suspect something then make the doctor take it seriously! With a family history of thyroid problems and personally having all the symptoms, I was tested 3 times...and it was "fine." Got a new doctor, she went further with the testing and found out that I have Hashimoto's Disease. Be your own best advocate! If the typical test comes back "fine," and you strongly suspect something is wrong, have them test T3 & T4. Still no answers? Go for TPO. All of mine were normal til the TPO test and the top number for that is either 25 or 35 (it's been a couple months so I can't remember that exactly) and mine was 1865! Report
Was fortunate to have a doctor that screened for it and found it as part of an annual physical over 18 years ago. I remember my reflex response being non-existent. That's what tipped her off to run the test. Were many of the other symptoms present? Yes. But, I was accepting them as part of my busy/over worked life. No need to accept such things as normal. They're not! Report
I have two friends that have serious problems with their thyroid, one is going blind and the other lost most of her hair, symptoms not listed here. I am guessing they must have not paid any attention to symptoms or their Dr.'s didn't test them for it. Its not screened for in a regular check up blood test, it has to be specifically requested. Report
This article is correct in saying that thyroid conditions have the same symptoms as other medical conditions. I have had many of the listed symptoms of a thyroid condition off and on in my life, but I always dismissed them because I have ADHD, Chronic Depression and Generalized Anxiety.Since I am on prescription medicine for my depression and anxiety ( which can cause other health conditions) I have an annual metabolic screening which checks for medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and a thyroid condition. Report
I feel for those of you who have thyroid issues. Mine was removed while I was on dialysis and within less than a month I began having the most horrific anxiety and panic attacks one could imagine. I had been (not so) lovingly referred to as "Mr. Spock" by my No. 1 squeeze before having my thyroid removed. Luckily Nephrologists are well aware of this problem. Lots of dialysis patients have their thyroid removed. My doctor sent me directly to a very nice head-shrinker who put me on Xanax and Lexapro. After about three months, my symptoms were so mild I hardly noticed.
As a retired SPED teacher, I have seen quite a few students make a complete behavior turn-around after being diagnosed with, and treated for, both hypo- and hyperthyroidism. Report
One thing the article did not mention is 'normal' thyroid stimulating hormone levels have been revised and many doctors are still not using the updated guidelines. Check with your doctor. I had to fire a doctor who told me my thyroid levels were fine (being treated for 7 years already). Don't trust a doctor who will not sit and explain the results of your test. ' Your levels are fine' is NOT an explanation. You should know what your level of thyroid stimulating hormone is each time you are tested. It does fluctuate, but I now know I feel best when my levels are 2.0-2.5. Discussion with your doctor and your active involvement in treatment are key to correcting this disorder. I am now moderately energized and motivation to workout and eat right are on me, not my disorder. Report
I have been dealing with these symptoms and concerns for about 5 years now. All bloodwork comes back in normal limits despite the several nodules on my thyroid. Also completed ultrasound and more nodules continue to develop but no apparent problems with bloodwork. Now I have lost 40lbs, but the symptoms still remain. I'm just told to continue my exercise and nutrition routine and to consider gluten free diet as well. Needless to say, I've had to work twice as hard then the average person to have the amount of weight thus far. Frustrating... Report
My son started having anxiety attacks, sweats, tremors throughout his whole body, depression, felt like he had a dry tablet stuck in his throat and had a lump on one side of his neck. One doctor told him he couldn't have thyroid problems because he wasn't female! Another doctor told him that the lump on his neck was because he was so fat that the fat had nowhere else to go but into his neck!! Nobody would test him for thyroid problems. He got a splinter in his toe which became infected and went to a clinic where a very observant nurse asked why he was sweating so much even though the temperature was 1 degree Celsius. He said he always sweated like that. When he returned home he went to a doctor who actually had him tested and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and a tumour on his windpipe. The medications he had to take made a little difference but he wouldn't take the antidepressants because he felt like a zombie on them. He's not had his medication for six months now and isn't much worse off but he says his muscles are getting weaker. We now have a doctor who really wants to help him but his previous experiences have made him very distrustful of the medical profession in general so it will be one small step at a time for a while. He has had no real quality of life for so long now so I'm trusting that his life can be greatly improved and continue forward. He was about 15 when he first started feeling unwell. He first went to the 'you're not female' doctor when he was about 20 and was finally taken notice of when he was already 35 years old. It's a sad indictment on the medical profession. If they can't discover or don't understand what to do, refer the patient on to a specialist instead keeping their fragile ego intact and making the already under stress patient feel inadequate and a fool, which is what has happened in my son's case and I'm sure he's not the only person to feel like that.
I found this site very interesting and helpful. Thank you Report
I have had ALL of those symptoms, been treated but had to change doctors and my new doctor doesn't believe I have a problem! Report
I have recently received a diagnosis for a thyroid problem and am taking medication. The symptoms were ignored in a physical exam 10 years ago when I first noticed them. By luck 6 months ago my Doctor did a thyroid blood test. These symptoms are right-on! The article inspired me to write a short blog to bring it to the attention of some who may have missed the article in my teams. Report
Dave Frahm has been helping me with my thyroid problems on Face Book. He is an awesome doctor. Report
This is very interesting. I have some of these symptoms. I'll have to try to remember to ask my dr about this. Report
The symptom that made me head to the doctor was an intense, burning pain in all my joints but particularly my hands which had swollen to the point that I hadn't worn my wedding rings in a couple of years. I thought I had arthritis (and donated my piano away, because I was sure I'd never play again).

Fortunately, my doctor was on the ball and tested me immediately for hypothyroidism. Once I was diagnosed, I realized I had almost every other symptom - I had just thought they were "signs of getting older." I couldn't believe the difference just a week or two of treatment accomplished! I felt like I was in one of those Claritin commercials, where they peel the fog off the picture of the person's life.

One of my dogs was diagnosed last year, too. What sent us to the vet? She was gaining weight despite 4 miles a day walking and no people food, she just looked sad (totally unlike her, and she was only 3 years old), and she didn't want to take walks anymore (VERY unlike her). She was actually starting to limp on walks and would run away when we pulled out the leash. Now, she's happy, playful, pain free, and LOVES her walks again. Report
i show every symptom of hypothyroidism and so does my sister and mom. my sisters is more severe so she actually got tested first for it. everything was normal. my mom started her on some herbal pills that help with thyroid. made her a lot worse. so when i started showing symptoms i went to the doctor right away. got every test done that could be done. my thyroid is normal. then my sisters doctor found a rare disease that is actually a potassium deficiency disorder that causes the same symptoms. its ranges from almost nothing to very severe. my sisters was caught because hers is severe. her potassium will drop to near fatal levels at the blink of an eye. she has to carry potassium with her for when she randomly drops. its nearly impossible to test for because they test for potassium levels but if they waited for the levels to drop enough to test it they would risk her life. but since shes started carrying potassium around shes been a lot better. her doctor couldnt officially diagnose me but she said from what i show and how i am most likely i have it too. its something that passes down from the women in the family which explains a lot in my family, it starts up around age 13-14 also explaining a lot, and it shows the same exact symptoms of hypothyroid as well as a few extra symptoms. i just have to watch my levels and my body tells me when im getting just a little too low so if i pay attention then im good. Report
My TSH level has been high for years but all the other thyroid tests are completely within normal range. I don't really have many of the symptoms either. I am 30 pounds overweight but can lose weight if I try. I'm never cold, my skin is not dry and I have complete eyebrows (lol). I have taken Synthroid and Armor but both made me want to jump out of my skin with major anxiety. Since I am very sensitive to meds, I broke the lowest dose of Synthroid in half and still felt awful. Has anyone else had this experience? I lost weight when I had pneumonia in 2008 and my TSH level dropped in half. I am going to get serious about losing some weight to see if this happens again. From all the reading I have done on this subject, I just don't feel like a "typical" hypothyroid based on the list of symptoms. Report
To every lady that came up with a negative test result/biopsy....
I am 43 years old and extremely active. I play tennis every day dance ballroom and ballet, I have pets that need excersize and I eat moderately healthy foods. Oh, and I even go to the gym before tennis sometimes. I feel your frustration, I weigh in at 210 lbs!!!!! I spent three years going to the doctor with no indication of cancer, but three 4cm goiters or larger and growing in my thyroid. I never gave up and you shouldn't either. I finally had enough of the mri's the biopsy (ouch) and the two horrible spinal taps!!! They left out the chronic migranes that made light and noise intolerable, the dizziness, the double vision and dry eyes (omega 3 helps) and the irritability and cramps that feel like your tummy is going to burst. four doctors and three years of this was too much. I was even starting to have difficulty breathing. My throat looked like a toads expanded throat. So after much insisting on my part, I got my ednocrinologist to recommend the removal of my thyroid. And guess what. In pathology they found cancer cells. Don't mess around with this because it's your body, your life. So easy to treat. You just have to not give up. That was four years ago. I'm active and happy, no more migranes, double vision, headaches. The weight is still an issue and always will be and I will take hormones for the rest of my life, but no more cancer cells and I feel good. I wouldn't recommend surgery for everyone, but I do recommend that you all keep your heads up and find the right choices for you. You are beautiful. Report
I have every symptom. my test always come back normal but the last one came back slightly abnormal. My doctor said I was fine. Even with going to the gym 2-4 time a week I am gaining weight. I work 60 to 80 hours a week on my feet. I should not be 240lbs. it's causing me to be depressed Report
Hypothyroidism is at *EPIDEMIC* levels! Younger and younger women are hypothyroid, but most doctors rely on the largely-useless TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test. The TSH test measures *pituitary function*, not thyroid function. The long-term ramifications of hypothyroidism are very *SERIOUS*: If a woman has been hypothyroid for 10 years, her risk of liver cancer skyrockets 300%! Severe heart disease often results from hypothyroidism, as does intractable chronic depression and a profound overall loss of quality of life.. A very helpful book and web site about hypothyroidism is Stop The Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe. The author also manages a Yahoo web site that provides great *free* support to many hypothyroid people. The Yahoo group maintains a "Good Doc List" for every state, so it's possible to find an open-minded doctor that won't just blindly rely on the TSH test. Hypothyroidism is soo serious that babies born to hypothyroid mothers often have lower IQ's later in life.

The usual prescribed treatment for hypothyroidism is synthetic T-4 only (Synthroid) medication. Synthetic T-4 thyroid helps relieve symptoms in the beginning, but it stops being effective after a while. T-4 is the storage hormone and it has to be changed into useable T-3 by the body, which often doesn't happen, so severe symptoms return. Getting some T-3 prescribed will often dramatically improve a patient's life--but because most docs aren't very enlightened about the correct, symptom-based treatment of hypothyroidism, many long-term sufferers finally resort to "self medicating" by buying their own thyroid meds. One way to get good quality T-3 thyroid without a prescription is from Mexico, where it is called "Cynomel" (instead of "Cytomel", which is the U.S. name.). Fortunately, there are reputable Mexican pharmacies that sell Cynomel to U.S. buyers (3 bottles, 100 tabs each bottle for about $60) That is how I finally got my own hypothyroidism correctly treated---Synthroid alone made me very, very ill and I "saved" myself with Mexican T-3 "Cynomel'.

If your hands (or 'behind') feel cold a lot of the time, if you have 'brain fog', you are probably hypothyroid and you need *symptom based* treatment rather than just relying on the TSH test, which is often useless. Doctors dismiss hypothyroidism as just a nuisance, but it destroys quality of life for untold millions. Due to our Western lifestyles, diets and environmental factors, we are at enormous risk for hormonal imbalances. The HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) Axis must be kept in *balance* for optimal health and that requires getting the right thyroid meds and eating a good diet IF you are truly serious about getting your hypothyroidism under control.Unfortunately, Armour "natural" (meaning pork slaughter house products) changed their formula to add a lot of crunchy cellulose and it's very hard to digest, so many people are hypo when taking Armour's new formula.. There are other brands of natural thyroid that are made in better formulas.

Everyone over 40 needs to be taking good-quality CoQ10 to protect their hearts. CoQ10 is responsible for energy production on the cellular level and hypo people will feel a definite energy boost from CoQ10. (I prefer liquid Qunol because it's soo well absorbed.) For the depression and weight gain associated with hypothyroidism, 5-HTP, which is an entirely natural and inexpensive product, is often very helpful. 5-HTP raises serotonin levels, so it has a calming (but not sedating) effect, while it also reduces appetite considerably. 5-HTP can be quite useful for preventing binge eating impulses. A very high-quality, high EPA fish oil product like Omegavia is also necessary.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder, is destroying millions of thyroid glands, so we should be always mindful of eating the best, low inflammation diet we can. We have to eliminate the white, processed "junk" and stick to low glycemic index foods that provide the nourishment our bodies crave. Getting our HPA Axis in correct balance takes time and personal discipline, but it's soo worth it to finally feel good again! :-) Report
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