If you're tired all the time, it can be easy to misinterpret that as a sign that you're taking on too much at work, you're doing too much for the kids' after-school programs, you've been up with the baby a lot lately, you're fighting off a cold, the list goes on and on. The first thought that crosses your mind isn't usually that one of your glands might be acting up, but there could be some subtle signs your fatigue is actually a thyroid disorder, even if it seems like that might be a long-shot.
There are a few different things that could be going on with your thyroid, which, as The New York Times reported, regulates your metabolism and energy levels. Hyperthyroidism, when your thyroid kicks into overdrive, is, according to Healthline, a condition when your thyroid gland releases too much of its hormone, which can be diagnosed with a blood test and can lead to other serious conditions like heart problems and osteoporosis, according to Mayo Clinic. It's pretty rare in women, and even rarer in men. Hypothyroidism, conversely, is when your thyroid gets a bit sluggish and doesn't produce enough of its hormone. According to the aforementioned article from Healthline, most hypothyroidism cases aren't very serious and can be treated with hormone pills.
If you have a niggling thought in the back of your mind that your extreme exhaustion might actually be because of a thyroid disorder, you need to keep an eye out for additional symptoms.
1. You're Losing Your Hair
There are lots of reasons why your hair might seem to be thinning, ranging from stress to life postpartum, but it could also be a sign that your thyroid is all out of whack. As The New York Times reported in the previously-mentioned article, hair loss can be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which can also be confused as a normal part of the aging process (as can many other symptoms of hypothyroidism). If you can't figure out exactly what might be leading to your hair falling out, especially if you have other symptoms, you might want to ask your doctor to check your thyroid hormone levels just to be sure.
2. You Can't Focus
If you notice that you're struggling to concentrate or focus on the tasks at hand, sure, it might just be because you're tired. But it could also be something else. Dr. Mark Hyman penned a blog post for HuffPost in which he noted that lack of concentration can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Getting your hormone levels stabilized can help you shake off the brain fog.
3. Your Sleep Patterns Have Changed
Either sleeping more or sleeping less can be a sign that all isn't right with your thyroid gland. Endocrinologist Dr. Hossein Gharib told Reader's Digest that if your thyroid is over-producing certain hormones, they can interfere with your central nervous system and keep you awake at night. Likewise, if you don't produce quite enough of certain hormones, you might feel tired even after a solid night of sleep.
4. Your Weight Has Changed For Seemingly No Reason
Unexplained weight loss or gain might point to thyroid issues, as well. Dr. Stuart Weinerman, associate chief of the division of endocrinology at North Shore-LIJ Health System, told Everyday Health that if your thyroid isn't producing enough of its hormones, you might gain weight because your metabolism will slow. Not only that, but if your thyroid isn't chugging along as it should, your body could bloat, which again can lead to some weight gain.
Similarly, in the case of hyperthyroidism, you might unexpectedly lose some weight, as The New York Times reported in the previously-mentioned story. It makes sense. If your thyroid is overactive, your metabolism might quicken, while if it's under-active, it might slow.
5. You're Struggling To Conceive
Endocrinologist Dr. Ashita Gupta told Reader's Digest in the aforementioned article that women who have hypothyroidism might have a difficult time conceiving a baby or carrying it to term because of the skewed (lower) hormone levels in their bodies. If you have a miscarriage or have difficulty while trying to conceive, you may want to ask your doctor about getting your thyroid activity checked out to see if that could potentially be the cause.
6. Your Heart Beat Is Different
According to the Mayo Clinic, hyperthyroidism can cause your heart to beat a little faster, a condition known as tachycardia. It can also make your heart beat irregularly. If your heart seems to be acting differently than you're used to, it could actually be a thyroid issue, and not just a heart issue.
7. You're Anxious
If your anxiety has picked up lately, well, there are a lot of potential causes, but one you may have not considered is an overactive thyroid gland. According to the previously-mentioned article from Healthline, because of the influx of hormones circulating throughout your body with hyperthyroidism, "your body's systems speed up," which can make you feel anxious. If you're dealing with anxiety, especially if it's new, you might want to look into getting your thyroid looked at because it's always more comforting to know what's going on, especially if you're anxious.
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