Your thyroid is a small gland that produces hormones that influence every cell and system in your body. When thyroid function is suboptimal, you may experience widespread symptoms that can be confusing or vague. In addition to common hypo and hyperthyroidism symptoms, here are 10 surprising signs your thyroid may not be working properly:
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can trigger hair loss and thinning. This occurs because thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, cell growth, and protein production - all factors that influence hair growth. Hypothyroidism slows cell turnover, reducing the hair growth phase. Hyperthyroidism speeds this turnover, leading to premature shedding. Thyroid disorders also reduce nutrients and oxygen to the follicles. The result is brittle, dry hair that falls out excessively. Getting your thyroid levels balanced can help normalize hair growth cycles.
2. Irregular Periods
Thyroid disorders commonly cause irregular menstrual cycles, heavy or light periods, and reduced fertility in women. Thyroid hormones directly impact reproductive health and estrogen levels. Hypothyroidism causes ovulation issues due to low progesterone and lack of thyroid stimulation of ovaries. Hyperthyroidism increases sex hormone binding globulin levels, reducing usable estrogen and testosterone. Getting your thyroid in optimal balance can help regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility.
3. Dry, Brittle Nails
Healthy nails require sufficient protein, nutrients, and circulation - factors influenced by your thyroid. Low thyroid function reduces blood flow and slows cell turnover in nails. This can leave nails dry, brittle, and slow to grow. Vertical ridges or nails separating from nail beds can also signal hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism also causes brittle nails due to protein deficiencies. Keeping thyroid levels optimal helps promote strong, healthy nails.
4. Impaired Memory and Focus
Thyroid hormones play an important role in brain development and function. They influence neurotransmitters, nerve conduction, and blood flow to the brain. Hypothyroidism reduces mental sharpness, while hyperthyroidism can cause difficulty concentrating. Both undermine focus, learning, and memory formation. Balancing your thyroid is crucial for cognitive health at any age.
5. Fatigue and Weakness
Feeling exhausted despite adequate sleep or rest is a hallmark of hypothyroidism, as metabolism slows. However, some cases of hyperthyroidism can also leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and weak in muscles and joints due to protein breakdown and insomnia. Optimizing thyroid levels appropriate to your body can help resolve unexplained fatigue.
6. Low Libido
Thyroid disorders are a common cause of reduced sex drive and arousal difficulties in both men and women. Hypothyroidism causes fatigue, ovulation issues, and hormonal changes that suppress libido. Hyperthyroidism increases sex hormone binding globulin, reducing free testosterone and estrogen. Anxiety and poor body image from thyroid-related weight changes can also lower libido. Optimizing thyroid levels can help restore sex drive.
7. Digestive Problems
Gut issues like constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and unintentional weight changes can indicate a thyroid imbalance. Thyroid hormones help regulate digestion, metabolism, gastrointestinal motility, and nutrient absorption. Imbalances disrupt these processes. Getting your thyroid properly regulated can help normalize bowel movements and eliminate digestive symptoms.
A hoarse, scratchy voice that comes and goes may signal a thyroid problem putting pressure on your vocal cords. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause vocal changes and swelling in the throat or larynx. This disrupts vocal cord vibration, leading to hoarseness. Getting thyroid levels balanced helps take pressure off vocal cords.
9. Puffy Face and Eyes
Facial puffiness around the eyes, cheeks, and jawline can occur with hypothyroidism. Insufficient thyroid hormone causes fluid retention and accumulation under the skin, resulting in swelling. Poor circulation also contributes to pooling of fluids. Bringing thyroid levels up to optimal can help resolve unexplained facial puffiness.
10. Slowed Heart Rate
In hypothyroidism, low thyroid hormone production causes a slowed heart rate or bradycardia. Thyroid hormones normally increase heart contractions and cardiac output. Low thyroid leads to fewer signals telling the heart to pump faster during activity. Optimizing thyroid hormone levels helps maintain a healthy heart rate.
Don’t Ignore These Subtle Signs
Many people brush off thyroid symptoms or attribute them to aging, stress, or other causes. But overlooking these subtle signs can allow thyroid problems to worsen over time. Getting the right diagnosis through lab testing and a thyroid exam is key.
If you are experiencing any combination of these lesser-known thyroid symptoms, schedule a medical evaluation. At our clinic, we include a Thyroid & Metabolic Panel in our Executive Lab Package to check your TSH, free T4, free T3, and antibodies for optimal insight into thyroid health. [Click Here to Learn More!]
With the right treatment plan, you can get your thyroid functioning properly again and resolve these problematic symptoms. Our naturopathic providers can also offer guidance on lifestyle changes and nutritional support to enhance thyroid and overall health. Don't let thyroid issues impact your health and wellbeing.