If you can’t locate your thyroid, you’re not alone as most people don’t know much about this important gland. Located in your neck, this small gland is actually vital to your body’s normal functioning.
That’s why any sudden changes in your weight, energy levels, and resting heart rate could be a sign of a serious problem with your thyroid. Here in South Charleston, West Virginia, Dr. David W. Ranson is an expert in diagnosing and treating common thyroid problems.
While there are a wide variety of diseases that can affect your thyroid, they generally affect your thyroid by causing it to be overactive (also known as hyperthyroidism) or underactive (known as hypothyroidism). Here are just a few of the signs to look out for when it comes to thyroid health.
Signs of hyperthyroidism
A number of diseases can increase your thyroid activity, including Graves’ disease, Plummer’s disease, and thyroiditis. Generally, this increased thyroid activity causes your metabolic activity to increase, which can cause the following symptoms.
Sudden weight loss is one of the most prominent symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Your thyroid is influential in setting something called your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
If your thyroid starts to overproduce thyroid hormones, it can lead to your body burning more calories than normal. This could lead to you losing weight quickly even without any dietary or activity changes.
Increased heart rate
Because your thyroid produces hormones that increase the synthesis of cardiac proteins as well as increasing cardiac depolarization and repolarization, it can increase your heart rate, lead to excess cardiac pressure, and even cause heart palpitations. If left untreated, this excess pressure on your heart can lead to serious cardiac problems.
Mood swings, including anxiety and nervousness
While you might just think you’re extra worried about a test or job interview, a sudden increase in anxiety could be caused by hyperthyroidism as well. As you may know, hormones can have a huge impact on your mood so excess thyroid hormones can lead to anxiety, nervousness, and even night sweats.
While a number of conditions can cause you to feel tired, if you notice sudden muscle weakness and fatigue in addition to any of the above symptoms, it might be a sign of a thyroid condition.
Signs of hypothyroidism
An underactive or sluggish thyroid can lead to a reduced production of thyroid hormones that are essential for your body’s normal processes. Many times, hypothyroidism is caused by diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease, congenital hypothyroidism, or even iodine deficiency.
Reduced thyroid activity can lead to a reduced BMR causing you to store more calories than you burn. In addition, hypothyroidism can sometimes cause fluid retention as well, causing you to gain excess water weight. That’s why weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism and is often the first symptom they notice.
Your thyroid also contributes to controlling the rate at which you digest your food. Hypothyroidism can lead to your regular bowel movements slowing down which can cause constipation and other digestive problems.
Brittle nails and dry skin
Hyperthyroidism can lead to excess accumulation of substances like hyaluronic acid in your skin and nails, which can lead to scaly skin, dry hair, and brittle nails. Sometimes, hypothyroidism can be diagnosed on the basis of certain specific problems with your nails such as curved nails, swollen fingertips, and thickened skin at the base of the nail.
While both hyper- and hypothyroidism can greatly disrupt your health, there are many ways to manage these conditions with regular thyroid medication. If you do notice any of the above signs and symptoms, it might be time to speak with Dr. Ranson about your thyroid by calling 304-301-3910 or requesting an appointment.