Although the vast majority of Americans who suffer from a thyroid condition are unaware that they have a problem, it’s estimated that there may be as many as 60 million people in the United States who are currently afflicted with a thyroid problem. If these figures are correct, they mean that more than one in every five Americans has a problem with their thyroid, and most of them don’t even know it.
Thyroid problems are generally categorized as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when the thyroid is not making enough of the thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is the result of too much thyroid hormone.
Untreated thyroid problems can result in obesity, depression, heart disease, hair loss, infertility, anxiety and many other health conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to get medical care if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the muscles and joints. If you have frequent aches, pains and weakness in your joints or muscles, or if you have ever been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
- Pain or enlargement in the neck. A swelling in the neck, hoarse voice or a thyroid that’s visibly enlarged can all be caused by a goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland, and a symptom of thyroid disease.
- Changes to the hair or skin. Hair loss, in particular, is a common symptom associated with thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism can cause hair to become brittle and dry. Hyperthyroidism frequently results in severe hair loss and thin skin.
- Bowel issues. Hypothyroidism all too frequently causes long term and/or severe constipation issues, while hyperthyroidism has the opposite effect, resulting in diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Menstrual irregularity. Here again, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism result in opposite effects. Hypothyroidism often results in heavier, more frequent and painful menstruation, while hyperthyroidism causes lighter or infrequent periods. Infertility can be the result in either case.
- Family history. If your family members have been diagnosed with a thyroid problem, you’re more likely to suffer the same fate. It can be tricky to uncover your history, as the names were different years ago—typically, sufferers were described as having “gland problems” or “goiter.”
- Cholesterol issues. Hyperthyroidism can cause low blood cholesterol levels, while high cholesterol that doesn’t respond to exercise, diet or medication designed to lower cholesterol may be the result of hypothyroidism.
- Personality disorders. Depression is a common companion of hypothyroidism. On the other hand, anxiety issues (especially sudden onset panic disorder) may be the result of undiagnosed hyperthyroidism.
- Weight change. By now you’re probably beginning to notice a pattern, so it will come as no surprise to learn that unexplained weight gain is a sign of hypothyroidism while hyperthyroidism often results in weight loss.
- Fatigue. Both types of thyroid problems can cause chronic fatigue. If you’re sleeping eight or nine hours a night and feeling unrested, or if you have repeated bouts with insomnia that leave you tired during the day, it could be that your thyroid is trying to talk to you.
Many of the symptoms described here can also be the result of other diseases, so it’s important for you to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or chiropractic team immediately. Your physician is able to diagnose and treat thyroid problems, so there’s no reason to delay treatment. If you’ve been feeling excessively tired, hungry and stiff, it’s time to make an appointment for a checkup.
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.