Sure, we all know where our thyroid is (at the base of our throat), but how do we know when it’s not acting correctly?
After all, the small butterfly-shaped gland has a lot of responsibility: mainly, regulating our metabolism. It converts our food into energy, either at a slow or fast pace.
You probably know someone with a high metabolism—they can eat anything and it seems like they don’t gain an ounce (it’s not fair). This is based on the thyroid hormone (which is created from iodine from the blood, which is blended into thyroid hormones).
Naturally, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) has a lot to say about thyroids:
- Over 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their lives.
- Approximately 20 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disease.
- Almost 60% of people with thyroid disease do not know they have it.
- Women are more likely than men to have thyroid issues—five to eight times more likely.
How does one thyroid differ from the next? Well, some thyroids become overactive while others become under-active.
Though there are no definitive causes for who will get thyroid problems versus another, there are symptoms you should look out for to see if your thyroid is acting up.
No matter how many symptoms you may be having, a blood test by a general practitioner is the only surefire way to tell if your thyroid is to blame. A blood test will show your TSH level, the thyroid-stimulating hormone level—between 0.4 and 4.5 milli-units per liter (mU/L) is normal.
Signs Of An Under-Active Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
- Feeling cold almost all the time
- Dry skin and hair
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight gain
- Extremely heavy periods
- Joint or muscle pain
- Hoarse voice
- Sad or depressed
- A puffy face
Signs Of An Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)
- Feeling hot almost all the time
- Clammy hands or and/or increased sweating
- A racing heart (particularly during exercise)
- Weight loss
- Very light periods
- Diarrhea or increased bowel movements
- Muscle weakness
- Trembling in your hands or fingers
- Eye changes (bulging, red, or irritated eyes)
- Difficulty sleeping
If you have several of the signs above, it’s best to get your TSH levels tested. After all, a simple blood test is not a lot to ask in regard to your health, right?