Approximately 59 million people in the United States have thyroid issues. The problem is that most of these people are not even aware that they have any condition. The thyroid is a gland shaped like a butterfly found in the neck. It is referred to as the master gland for metabolism.
When a person has thyroid issues, this affects the overall health and may cause weight gain, depression and low energy level. Undiagnosed thyroid problems increase risk of obesity, depression, anxiety, heart disease and a range of medical conditions.
Thyroid Issues in Men
One of the most common thyroid issues in men is hypothyroidism which is a condition wherein the person has low levels of thyroid hormones. This is due to an underactive thyroid gland resulting to a slow metabolism and symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, weight gain and intolerance to cold.
Hypothyroidism was underdiagnosed before the year 2002 when the Society of Endocrinologists stated that the standard testing ranges for thyroid hormone levels were incorrect.
Another common thyroid issue in men is hyperthyroidism which is a condition wherein the person has high levels of thyroid hormones. There are considerably less people suffering from this problem compared to those suffering from hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism increases metabolism and causes symptoms like muscle weakness, heart palpitations, trembling hands, insomnia and weight loss.
Thyroid Issues in Women
The most common thyroid issue in women is hypothyroidism which is an underactive thyroid. It is estimated that about 1 in 7 adult women suffer from this problem. Hypothyroidism can be caused by medications, thyroid surgery, iron deficiency, pregnancy, etc.
10 Common Symptoms of Thyroid Issues
1. Weight Gain or Loss
Even if you’re on a low calorie diet and you exercise regularly but your weight remains the same or sometimes increases, you may be suffering from hypothyroidism. This is when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones which negatively affect your metabolism.
If you consume a high amount of calories regularly but still lose weight then you may be suffering from hyperthyroidism which is giving you a very fast metabolism.
2. Cholesterol Issues
High cholesterol regardless of your diet and/or exercise program may be due to hypothyroidism. In some cases even cholesterol lowering medications won’t work.
3. Joint and Muscle Pains
An undiagnosed thyroid problem can cause pain and discomfort of your joints and muscles. It can also cause weakness specifically in the arms and legs causing tendonitis, carpal tunnel and plantars fasciitis.
People with hypothyroidism usually suffer from fatigue and feel tired even after sleeping for 8 to 10 hours. This makes them sleepy during daytime causing the need to nap. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism causes insomnia making it very difficult to fall asleep at night leaving you tired the next day.
5. Neck Discomfort or Enlargement
Goiter starts with discomfort in the neck then eventually progresses to swelling in the neck area. Other symptoms of goiter are a hoarse voice and enlargement of the thyroid. This is a symptom of thyroid disease which is commonly caused by iron deficiency.
6. Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can be symptoms of a thyroid problem. Sometimes it can even cause sudden panic disorder attacks. People with hypothyroidism usually experience depression while hyperthyroidism is commonly linked to panic attacks and/or anxiety. Depression which doesn’t respond to antidepressants may be due to a thyroid disorder.
7. Changes of the Hair or Skin
Hair loss is one of the most common symptoms of thyroid issues in both men and women. With hypothyroidism, hair usually becomes brittle falling out or breaking easily. Skin can also become dry, thick and scaly.
With hypothyroidism, there is usually an abnormal loss of hair in the outer portion of the eyebrows. With hyperthyroidism, the skin becomes thin and sensitive and severe hair loss can also be experienced.
8. Infertility or Menstrual Irregularities
More frequent and heavier periods with severe PMS symptoms can be due to hypothyroidism while infrequent or lighter menstruation can be due to hyperthyroidism. People with thyroid conditions also typically have fertility problems.
9. Bowel Issues
Chronic or severe constipation is frequently due to hypothyroidism while irritable bowel syndrome and regular diarrhea are associated with hyperthyroidism.
10. Family History
If you have family members (parents, grandparents or siblings) who have thyroid problems then you have a higher risk of developing a thyroid condition. In many cases, older generations are not aware that they have a thyroid problem so it may be difficult to determine family history of thyroid issues.
Thyroid disorders are very common so if you are suffering from some of the symptoms mentioned, it would be best to consult your primary healthcare provider. If he/she suspects that you may have a thyroid issue, your thyroid hormone levels will be checked to determine the particular problem and the best treatment.