Some have called the thyroid the “canary in the coal mine” of modern life. Thyroid issues can be triggered by a wide variety of modern day influences – from toxic personal care ingredients to urban pollutants – and far too many of us struggle with getting our thyroids in balance.
Thyroid issues are a shockingly common health inhibitor with far-reaching repercussions and a long list of root issues. We asked functional medicine pro, Dr. Josh Axe, to help us demystify the few tell-tale signs that this essential gland has gone rogue. Here’s everything you need to know…
Pre-menopausal hot flashes, post-dinner hunger pangs and constant fatigue may seem like unrelated symptoms, but they may actually have the same root cause. That’s because the thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the throat, is responsible for regulating numerous physiological functions, including temperature, hunger levels and energy expenditure. And when the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, things can go haywire in a hurry.
According to The American Thyroid Association, one in eight women in the United States is impacted by a thyroid disorder at some point during her lifetime. The most common types of thyroid problems are hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, and hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid.
Thyroid problems are a serious concern that can affect many different areas of the body, but few women know to link their symptoms with their thyroids and, thus, don’t seek the healing support they really need. Below are five common signs that your thyroid is out of whack. If any of these ring true for you, I recommend visiting a functional medicine practitioner to confirm whether your thyroid is at fault.
Persistent fatigue – including lethargy, low motivation for everyday activities, brain fog, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness and muscle weakness – may be indications that you have an underlying thyroid problem. But not all fatigue is due to thyroid malfunction, so it’s important to know how to tell the difference.
If your fatigue is thyroid-related, you will experience difficulty sustaining energy and will likely notice that don’t have the energy for once-normal activities. You struggle to have the energy to workout, despite being an avid exerciser. Your head may feel heavy or tired in the afternoons, and you may also find yourself falling asleep as soon as you sit still for a while.
Moodiness + Anxiety
Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause moodiness and sleep difficulties. An underactive thyroid may result in depression, low moods, tearfulness and loss of appetite, while hyperthyroidism may trigger anxiety, nervousness, butterflies, racing heart, trembling and irritability.
The thyroid hormone is directly linked to the regulation and creation of important neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin and norepinephrine. When your thyroid malfunctions and the production of the thyroid hormone changes, these neurotransmitters can (and tend to) go haywire, causing these unwanted effects on your mood.
A low basal metabolic rate often accompanies an underactive thyroid. Because of this, one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain and trouble losing weight. This weight gain can even be seen with severe eating restrictions because the metabolic rate falls when calories are reduced.
But that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to gain weight if you’re struggling with an underactive thyroid, and some women don’t. It comes down to individual biochemistry, the quality of foods you consume and how your body uses the calories from those foods.
The thyroid gland is often called the body’s thermostat because it helps to regulate bodily temperatures. People with hypothyroidism often have low body temperatures and experience cold intolerance. Feeling cold is a symptom that is easy to ignore, but because of their low body temperatures, people with hypothyroidism are at greater risk of hypothermia, which poses serious risks.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Longer menstrual periods with a heavier flow and more severe PMS symptoms, including cramps and bloating, can be a sign of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid can also cause periods to be closer together.
With the higher amounts of hormones that are present with hyperthyroidism, periods may be shorter, farther apart and very light. So if you’re experiencing irregular periods, or if you’ve recently noticed a significant change in your periods, it may be time to get your thyroid checked.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.