What You Need to Know About Your Thyroid Health

Malgorzata Sypien, M.D., FAAFP, Integrative Family Practice, Chicago IL

Signs That Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Properly

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located above the Adam’s apple in the neck which produces the thyroid hormone known as “TH”. A Fox News Article in 2013 explains that the thyroid can have a dramatic impact on critical bodily functions as it regulates body temperature, metabolism and heartbeat to name a few. As you may imagine, adverse things can happen in the body if the Thyroid is over (Hyperthyroid) or under (Hypothyroid) active.

At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder with half being undiagnosed according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Problems with the Thyroid could be related to genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment.

Consider the following signs to determine if you may have a thyroid disorder

You're exhausted

Feeling tired and having no energy can be the result of hypothyroidism. If you are still tired in the morning or during the day after a full night's sleep, that may be a clue that your thyroid is underactive.

You're feeling down

Feeling unusually depressed or sad can be the result of insufficient thyroid hormone production which may have an impact on the level of "feel good" serotonin in the brain.

You feel jittery and anxious

Anxiety or a feeling of being “wired" can also be associated with hyperthyroidism as the thyroid gland is making too much thyroid hormone not allowing your body to relax.

Your appetite or taste buds are altered

The production of too much thyroid hormone can affect the appetite as you feel hungry all of the time. An underactive thyroid that does not produce enough thyroid hormone can result in a loss of taste and smell.

Your brain feels fuzzy

A hyperthyroid condition can cause concentration difficulty, while a hypothyroid condition may cause forgetfulness and general brain fog. Dr. Sypien of Integrative Family Practice says, “Many women think it’s just something that comes along with menopause when it may actually be a sign of a thyroid problem.”

You've lost your interest in sex

Insufficient thyroid hormone production could be a contributing factor to a low libido, however the cumulative effect of hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain, low energy and an aching body.

You're feeling all fluttery

If you are having what seem to be palpitations where your heart feels like it is skipping a beat beating too hard or quickly this may be a sign of too many thyroid hormones in your system.

Your skin is dry

The change in skin texture and appearance can be due to a slowed metabolism, where too little thyroid hormone is produced which minimizes the body’s ability to sweat leaving you with skin that is dry, brittle and flaky.

Your bowels are unpredictable

Dr. Sypien says that constipation is one of the top three signs of hypothyroidism as a deficiency in thyroid production may be a likely cause of a sluggish digestive system. An overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.

Your periods have changed

Longer menstrual periods, heavier flow and more cramps may be a sign of hypothyroidism as the thyroid hormones are in short supply. This condition can also cause periods to be closer together.

You have painful extremities or muscles

Mysterious or sudden tingling, numbness or pain in your arms, legs, feet, or hands could be a sign of insufficient hormone production from the thyroid which can damage the nerves that send signals from the brain and spinal cord throughout your body.

You have high blood pressure

Elevated blood pressure can be a symptom of thyroid disorder. By some estimates, people with a lack of thyroid hormone production may be two to three times the risk of developing hypertension.

Your thermostat is on the fritz

A system slow-down caused by an underactive thyroid means less energy is being burned by cells leaving you with a feeling of being cold, while an over active thyroid can leave you sweating profusely or simply feeling too warm.

You're hoarse or your neck feels funny

A change in your voice or a lump in your throat could be a sign of a thyroid disorder. A simple inspection with a hand mirror focused on your throat while you swallow a drink of water may reveal a bulge or protrusion in the thyroid area below your Adam's apple but above your collarbones.

Your sleep schedule is messed up

Insufficient thyroid hormone can slow bodily functions down to the point where you feel excessively sleepy while an overactive thyroid may cause anxiety with a rapid pulse making it harder to fall asleep or possibly wake you in the middle of the night.

You've gained weight

If you are eating a normal diet but gaining weight or working out and unable to shed the unwanted pounds, you may have a disorder from an underactive thyroid, while a sudden weight loss may signal an overactive thyroid.

Your hair is thinning or falling out

Dry, brittle hair that breaks or falls out can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Too little thyroid hormone disrupts your hair growth cycle and puts too many follicles into "resting" mode, resulting in hair loss. An overactive thyroid may typically be indicated by thinning of the hair just on your head.

You have trouble getting pregnant

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility. If you are having problems getting pregnant along with other symptoms indicated here, you may have a thyroid disorder.

You have high cholesterol

High levels of good or bad cholesterol that haven't responded to diet, exercise, or medication have been linked to hypothyroidism.

Push for thyroid treatment

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists narrowed the TSH range for acceptable thyroid function from 0.5-5.0 to 0.3-3.04 in 2003. “Find a doctor who treats the whole person, not just the lab tests,” says Dr. Sypien.


If you have one or more of these symptoms, contact Integrative Family Practice at (773) 205-2555 for thyroid hormone testing so that Dr. Sypien can recommend the proper medical resolution through non-traditional methods.

Source: Health Magazine