Thyroid Awareness Month: 6 Common Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

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Thyroid is an organ that so many people have heard of but, so many people don’t know what it does. I was one of those people who had limited knowledge and awareness about the thyroid; that is until I found out I had a thyroid disease. Knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle! So in honor of January being Thyroid Awareness Month, I’m sharing 6 common symptoms of thyroid disease.

The thyroid is a vital, butterfly shaped organ that sits in the front of your neck. When it’s functioning properly; it’s your best friend. When it’s not, it can create a whirlwind of problems. In this article we’ll be discussing 6 common symptoms of thyroid disease.

Diagram of normal thyroid function, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
Picture courtesy of Current Medical Issues Journal

6 Common Thyroid Disease Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

Chronic Fatigue

Everyone has experienced fatigue, sleepiness and exhaustion at some point in their life. Most often, we chalk it up to not getting enough sleep, or perhaps partying too hard or blaming it on the vigorous responsibilities of parenthood.

But what about that nagging, persistent fatigue that doesn’t seem to go away after a few good naps and a change in sleep habit? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have thyroid disease; but coupled with a few other symptoms, it could indicate a thyroid issue. Always talk to your physician and let them know if something feels off including your sleep!

Rapid Weight Gain or Loss

Here goes the dreaded topic for many of us out here; WEIGHT. Weight gain or weight loss is common for many reasons at varying stages of life. Dietary changes, stress, child bearing, menstruation, menopause, aging, holidays, medication, you name it your weight can be affected!

 However, weight gain or weight loss that happens relatively quickly, in a short amount of time (like a few months) and you’re not making any major intentional dietary changes? That can be a cause for concern and worth discussing at your doctor’s appointment.

Hair Loss

This is a symptom that started so subtly for me that I didn’t realize it was part of a larger problem. For about 6 years I had Locs (commonly known as Dreadlocks) and I assumed my hair loss was coming from the weight of my locs pulling. So during my last pregnancy in 2016 I cut my hair all off and let it grow un-manipulated.

 My hair shedding continued and I then reasoned it was because I had just given birth. 6 months post birth I was being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. I had no clue that hair loss was a symptom of thyroid disease so I ignored it.

Low or High Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is common in hypothyroid, and high blood pressure is common in hyperthyroidism. Either way, if you find yourself needing medication for either and it’s coupled with any of the other symptoms; feel free to mention it to you doctor. Blood pressure is often associated with genetics but the number one culprit most physicians will point to is weight. Because weight is a fluctuating issue in thyroid disease; often times a doctor may ignore your blood pressure issues being related to your thyroid.

Dry Skin

This is a symptom of thyroid disease I suffered from for years and I tried every method in the book to remedy it. I drank more water, tried a million moisturizers and exfoliates with no real relief. It wasn’t until my hypothyroidism began being treated that I saw a shift in the way my skin felt.

Goiter

A goiter is an enlargement or overgrowth of the thyroid. As mentioned at the outset of this article, the thyroid is a butterfly shape gland that sits in the front of your neck. This is one of the big tell tale signs that you may have a thyroid disease. That is the key to how I was diagnosed; my goiter was so enlarged it required surgery.

Believe it or not, a goiter doesn’t always indicate that you have hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer. However, should your thyroid magically begin to grow, clearly it’s something you want to bring to your primary care physician for further exploration.

Know What to Ask For

Knowing symptoms and signs of thyroid disease is a start to getting help for what could potentially be a problem. Most of the symptoms I listed can be contributed to other diseases or disorders, so it’s important to really pay attention to your body. Thyroid disease is the great mimicker because the symptoms (over 300 to be exact) can all look like something else!

If you’re concerned you may have a thyroid issue based on a combination of factors including perhaps genetics, ask your doctor for a thyroid panel. It’s a simple blood test which includes:

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

T4 (Thyroxine)

T3 (Triiodothyronine)

Free Thyroxine (T4)

TPO ( Thyroperoxidase Antibody)

 

In Conclusion

Health can be an overwhelming thing if we don’t take the time to educate ourselves. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had taken the time to learn about how important my thyroid was to my entire body’s function!  For more information on thyroid health and awareness, checkout American Thyroid Association.

AP Young signature with kiss print.

2 comments

  1. AP, great information. I know several people with thyroid issues. I live with a chronic disease and like you, I want to provide valuable information to others who may be in the same situation. If you have time, please stop by my blog and feel free to contribute. Again, thanks for the post! Happy New Year. I am hoping for great things in 2019!

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