When your thyroid stops working as it should, you can experience a variety of symptoms that might seem unrelated or even odd. From chills and brain fog to thinning hair and weight gain, if your thyroid isn’t functioning well, you may be experiencing symptoms that are subtle and hard to characterize.
Women are more likely to experience issues with their thyroid, but anyone can suffer thyroid problems. Recognizing the symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid is the best way to get the treatment you need.
Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause changes in your menstrual cycle. For example, if your periods become closer together, heavier, or longer, you may be dealing with an underactive thyroid that isn’t producing enough hormones. When your thyroid is producing too many hormones your period might get lighter and cycles more spaced apart.
Your weight can actually be one of the first indicators of a thyroid problem. Unexplained weight gain can mean your thyroid isn’t working hard enough, while unexplained weight loss, especially accompanied by ravenous hunger, means your thyroid is working overtime.
In most cases, problems with your thyroid aren’t an emergency. If you feel you have some of the symptoms above, you can simply make an appointment with your doctor to discuss testing and treatment options. However, you should call your doctor immediately if:
- You’re very drowsy, cold, and lethargic. This could be the start of a myxedema coma, which is caused by hypothyroidism that eventually leads to unconsciousness and in some cases death.
- You have a rapid pulse, accompanied by a fever, agitation, or delirium. This can indicate thyrotoxic crisis, a complication of hyperthyroidism.
It’s not always easy to know if you have a problem with your thyroid. Knowing some of the common symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid will help give you an idea of you need to talk to your doctor.
Talk with your primary care provider about testing and treatment of thyroid issues. They may refer you to an endocrinologist or thyroid specialist for follow-up care.