by Blake Herzog
Are you gaining or losing weight without trying to? Has your typical mood swung up or down? Do you have trouble going to sleep and feel fatigued or simply feel rundown most of the time? Do you seem to feel either warmer or colder than most of the people you’re around, rarely feeling comfortable?
These symptoms sound diametrically opposed but could be traceable to the same cause — a malfunctioning thyroid.
When this gland secretes hormone levels too high or low it affects many processes and either puts our bodies into overdrive or slows them down. In either case we’re eventually left tired, unhappy and at risk for other health problems.
If either of these clusters of symptoms sounds familiar to you, ask your doctor to test your thyroid hormone levels.
When your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones, your cells don’t have enough energy to function as they normally do. Patients often report gaining weight even though their diet hasn’t changed. They can feel depressed and find themselves becoming more forgetful and less focused.
Those with hypothyroidism experience fatigue and tire more easily than they used to and may want to turn up the thermostat higher than others in the same room.
Common causes of hypothyroidism include autoimmune disease, radiation treatment to the head or neck and certain medications. If not treated, hypothyroidism can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, depression, reduced mental function and infertility, among other complications.
If your thyroid secretes too many hormones, you may lose weight without effort, which most people count as a win until other symptoms emerge.
People can feel irritable and anxious, and some report having increased energy until their body starts to wear down from overstimulation by the thyroid. Racing heartbeat, hand tremors and difficulty sleeping also are common, as are thinning hair and skin.
The most common causes of hyperthyroidism are Graves’ disease, nodules on the thyroid and thyroiditis. Potential complications include congestive heart failure, osteoporosis and impaired vision.