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Top 13 Signs That You May Have a Thyroid Disorder

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Top 13 Signs That You May Have a Thyroid Disorder

Your thyroid gland plays a very important role in your body. It is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones that control many activities in your body. The brain’s pituitary gland controls the activity of your thyroid gland by secreting TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). This is the hormone that stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones.

There are a number of possible thyroid diseases and disorders, and the two of the most common thyroid disorders are:

  • Hyperthyroidism when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) than your body needs.
  • Hypothyroidism when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones.

Other diseases include goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules (lumps in the thyroid gland) and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).

According to the American Thyroid Association more than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, and these are many millions of people.

Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism and although the two disorders are closely linked, they have several important differences that affect diagnosis and treatment. Here you can find a guide to the top 13 signs that you may have a thyroid disorder:

1. Fatigue and sleep disorders

Hypothyroidism – Fatigue is the number one symptom in Hypothyroidism. You feel that you want to sleep all the time, or you sleep more than usual but still feel tired and exhausted with no energy.

Hyperthyroidism – some people with hyperthyroidism find it hard to fall asleep, and therefore they feel tired or exhausted. This is because overactive thyroid can cause insomnia due to rapid pulse and anxiety which can make it hard to fall asleep or even wake you in the middle of the night.

Doctors diagnose hyperthyroidism by testing the TSH levels as well as the thyroid hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). People who suffer from hyperthyroidism will mostly have low TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and high T4. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is usually associated with high TSH levels and low T4.

2. Weight changes

Hypothyroidism – You have a weight gain or you find it very difficult to lose weight. This is one of the top symptoms in hypo. I have already written a few articles that will help you to lose weight by increasing your metabolism and by eating these foods.

Hyperthyroidism – You may be losing weight although you eat the same amount of food as usual, or even losing weight while eating more than normal due to increased appetite.


3. Mood and mental changes

Hypothyroidism – You feel unusually depressed, sad and feeling down. This is because too little thyroid hormone affects the levels of serotonin in the brain. You may also find that your mind is not sharp and that you have poor concentration or poor memory or general brain fog.

Hyperthyroidism – hyperthyroidism is more associated with anxiety or panic attacks, or you feel that you cannot relax. Also too much thyroid hormone can cause difficulty concentrating.

4. Bowel problems

Hypothyroidism – you have severe or long-term constipation. This is one of the top most common symptoms and is due to the changes in hormone level production that can cause a slowdown of digestive processes.

Hyperthyroidism – you have diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

5. Muscle or joint problems

Hypothyroidism – you feel a sudden numbness, tingling or pain in your limbs. This is because producing too little thyroid hormone can affect the signals sent from the brain and spinal cord throughout the body. You may also feel general muscular or joint stiffness, pain or weakness, or have tendonitis in the arms and legs. If you suffer from joint stiffness and pain you can read my previous article about the best spices & herbs to relieve joint pain and how to use them.

Hyperthyroidism – can also cause a variety of muscle or joint problems, such as difficulties in holding objects with hands, or reaching arms above the head or climbing stairs.


6. Irregular periods, fertility and libido problems

Hypothyroidism – your periods are heavier, longer, more frequent and more painful. You may also suffer from infertility, low sex drive and hormone imbalances such as PMS.

Hyperthyroidism – you have shorter, lighter or infrequent periods. You may also suffer from infertility (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility).

7. Hair and skin changes

Hypothyroidism – your hair becomes dry and brittle and falls out easily. This is because too little thyroid hormone disturbs hair growth cycle. You may also have an unusual hair loss in the outer edge of the eyebrow or other body parts. Your skin might be dry due to slowed metabolism and your nails are brittle.

The Indian Dermatology Online Journal reported that hypothyroidism is associated with mottled skin (livedo reticularis). The symptoms of lace-like patchy purple skin were resolved when the appropriate medication was given to resolve the low thyroid levels.

hyperthyroidism – can also cause hair loss typically just on your head and thin and fragile skin.

8. Body temperature

Hypothyroidism – your hands and feet are cold, or you feel cold and have chills, or your body temperature is consistently below 98.5 F (37 C).


Hyperthyroidism – you sometimes feel too warm or sweat excessively.

9. Cholesterol Issues

Hypothyroidism – you have high cholesterol levels, especially when it’s not responsive to diet, exercise or medication.

Hyperthyroidism – you may have unusually low cholesterol levels.

10. blood pressure

Hypothyroidism – it is estimated that people with hypothyroidism have two to three times the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Hyperthyroidismsystolic blood pressure rises (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) However, diastolic pressure usually stays the same or goes down a little.

11. Heart rate

Hypothyroidism – You may have slower heart rate. The heart rate is modulated by thyroid hormone, so with lower levels of thyroid hormone the heart rate is typically 10-20 beats per minute slower than normal.

Hyperthyroidism – your heart may be beating too fast or you you have heart flutters or palpitations.

12. Neck enlargement (goiter)

A goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid gland. You may feel swelling or lump or discomfort in the neck or a hoarse voice. Goiter can occur both in hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

13. Risk factors: Family History, age, gender and smoking

Some people are more likely than others to develop thyroid problems. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to susceptibility of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Family history – if you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.

Gender and age – thyroid diseases are more prevalent in females, especially the elderly population. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.

Smoking – one component of tobacco smoke is cyanide, which is converted to thiocyanate, which acts as an anti-thyroid agent. The most dramatic effect of smoking on the thyroid is its association with hyperthyroidism. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1993 smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop Graves’ disease (a swelling of the neck and protrusion of the eyes resulting from an overactive thyroid gland).

So if you suspect you may have a combination of some of these symptoms, you may want to visit your doctor who can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, you can read my other post about 8 natural remedies to treat hypothyroidism.

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38 Responses to Top 13 Signs That You May Have a Thyroid Disorder

  1. Fran says:

    For a year or so, I was not feeling “up to par.” Had the normal yearly bloodwork done with nothing abnormal. Sitting at the computer one morning, ran my hand down my neck and found a fairly large lump. To the doc. All bloodwork came back normal. And I mean ALL. Even the thyroid hormone counts. Doc sent me for ultrasound, nuclear testing, and fine needle aspiration of the nodules the ultrasound revealed. 2 months to the day of finding the lump, I had my entire thyroid, the surrounding lymph nodes, and the lymph nodes in the left side of my neck removed. My biopsy came back positive for two DNA markers of cancer. One >95% the other >99%. Still in treatment and haven’t found out if it has spread elsewhere, but the biggest culprit is gone. IF you aren’t feeling “quite right” talk to your doc. The blood work doesn’t always show the problem. Again, MY BLOOD WORK WAS PERFECT. YOu are the only one who knows what feels “right” to you.

  2. Mailis says:

    Hello. Im am 18yo female from finland and have had similar symptoms. My doc tested thyroid disorder and found nothing at the time and doesn’t really know what to test next. i just read about this and was wondering if anyone can help or give advice what to do next. I have pretty much all the symptoms from the list above but also killer pain in my spine and bones from head to toes basically. Any thoughts?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Mailis, if you suspect that you have hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid), then I’ve read in the past that it’s often hard to detect hypothyroidism (see more about it in my article about How to Test Your Thyroid With a Thermometer). I’m not sure if you were checked by a general practitioner (GP) or you were referred to an endocrinologist who is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to hormones. If you were checked by a GP, then I would go to see an endocrinologist who has an in depth knowledge about hormonal issues can can dig further in to find if there is any problem.

  3. Marsha says:

    I had a thyroid tumor removed and started Levothyrxine. A couple of years later my blood calcium was too high and had my parathyroid removed. I am still on the same lev. Med and same dose. I am so tired most of the time, my hair is very thin, I have gained about 40 lbs. I am on lunesta for sleep. My dr. Continues to say my tests are fine. I know I am not fine but what can I do?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Marsha, I would go to get a second opinion from a trusted endocrinologist. Sometimes it’s hard to detect hormonal problems in blood tests and there is a need to dig further in. Don’t compromise about your health and find another specialist that you can talk to.

  4. Jessica says:

    I just got a recent diagnosis of lymes disease. Can thyroid problems arise or coincide with the symptoms of lymes. I’ve noticed just from your article that many of these symptoms are the same or similar to what I am experiencing. I also wonder if this can have an effect on meat consumption. I recently started getting sick when trying to consume beef, poultry, or pork. We buy local and additive free on the meats and actually know the sources they come from. I can eat fish and seafood, dairy is still digestible as well, although I don’t consume a lot of it, but it is bought local as well? I know your not a specialist, but maybe others are going through this as well. Or may possibly be misdiagnosed with lymes, when it is actually a thyroid issue.

    • Donna says:

      I have Hypothyroidism.. And after diagnosis And medication, I started to notice I was sensitive to Pork. I cannot eat it. I get physically ill. I am on Armour Thyroid med. It is a pork hormone based medication I have read. I wonder if theres a link between them.

    • Ann says:

      Jessica I’m a vegetarian mainly because want to live a healthy life , also I know that the animal kingdom is prone to disease more than ever before (my personal thoughts only) I can say that I enjoy a better life than going the other way, mind you we still face our challenges with everyday life… Going vegetarian is the best alternative then again that’s a personal choice no one should be pushed into it…!

      Have a great day , hope it helps.! 🙂

  5. Kristina says:

    Hi. I am in my 40s and I believe that I was diagnosed wrong. I was put on armour because a test result said my thyroid was wonky and I was asked how I was feeling.

    What I said reflected my current crazy existence.. I lived between 2 states at the time weekly, was always on the road, didn’t eat the greatest, ran on nonprofit, ran a homeschool group, worked at a theatre doing set designs.. I kind of thrived on the crazy and did I mention we have 4 boys?.

    Shortly before a year on this stuff, I felt weird and complained about it, but the test results said I was fine but to take vit d. MMMMMMM.. I continued to take it after being told that I could never get off.. and I felt worse not better, I stopped driving between two states but still did a lot of driving. 18 mos into this stuff I showed every sign of hypothyroid on it, never showed it off. I had no energy,I felt like I would collapse at any moment, I couldn’t put groceries away or laundry, or housework, my limbs would throb after doing normal stuff, my hair was falling out, I was greying rapidly like hair color never took or never happened, my eyebrows were thinning rapidly. I had brown circles around my eyes,I was in constant gastrinal distress, I was easily effected by temp, I gained 40lbs and I couldn’t stop it. I was like this is not the way life is suppose to be! I started reading for ways to change and realized maybe I shouldn’t be on this stuff.

    I was still told again I was fine like how could I be ?One morning I freaked myself out, my hair was like missing in the front big time,dark donut circles I could see around my eyes in natural light I started searching on the net. OMG!

    If indeed I was, I found some natural supplement to help if I did indeed have a sluggish thyroid, at very least it could help me heal. I took that instead every other day. Felt so much better on that so eventually within 2 weeks, I stopped taking the armour all together. This was 6 mos ago, I am now normal. ,All symptoms disappeared, my eyebrows grew back and dark as before. My hair holds color for almost 2 mos now and I now highlight.

    I haven’t found a doc (new location) to go see, I will be looking for someone homeopathic or naturopath, but I refuse to return to meds. I am going on how I feel, I listen to what my body wants, I should have done that in the first place. I am no longer gaining weight, I even took off 5 pounds even and I did this at the holidays. I figure when my body is healed the last to go will be the weight. I am willing to exercise now where going for groceries with 2 teens in tow to help was all that I could handle before. Life is way better now, I wish that I caught on sooner.

    What I found out from my own research is that I should have been checked to see if I was depleted of Vit b 12. Its a special test, not expensive either. I read studies where 40% of those on thyroid stuff where actually depleted in Vit b12. Check it out, Could it be Vit B 12? Check out Elena Vegalicious. Good luck.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you Kristina for sharing your experience – we are all happy that you are getting much better, and wish you a happy and healthy life!

    • Bushra says:

      hi Kristina
      im 24 years old n facing the same situation
      can u pls tell me what natural suppliment did you take for this issue?

  6. Jessica says:

    I have had my thyroid tested many times and it always comes back in the normal, range though I show all symptoms of hypothyroidism. I also have a family history of it, yet my doctor dismisses my concerns about it. I’m becoming frustrated with the situation because of the lack of concern my doctor shows and the fact that he would rather me be on pain medications as well as other medications for something I don’t possibly have yet won’t take the time to consider this as a possibility. What can I do to get my concern across to him clearly and correct my thyroid concerns?

    • Jenny says:

      I think Jessica that maybe it’s time to get a second opinion. It may be that the thyroid tests are OK but the problem lies somewhere else. Find another trusted doctor with recommendations from other people and consult with him/her. Different doctors have different approaches, and maybe you need a fresh look at your problems from another doctor.

    • Tiffany says:

      Normal range of thyroid tests are not actually normal. I learned that traditional thyroid tests do not tell the whole story either. Seek out a holistic chiropractor in your area who is educated on autoimmune disorders. Almost all of these thyroid problems are generated from your gut, and when you fix that, your thyroid can function better along with your whole immune system.

  7. virginia says:

    I was diagnosed with HOshimoto disease last year…in October and have been on Levothyroxine..In reading all your information on thyroid problems, not only are you to the tea on the symptoms but I have all so learned even more about what I need to eat and stay away from…I was seriously ill and have Diabetes with NO meds but noticed that I was losing hair thinking it was menopause symptoms which I suffered with severe blood loss in demonstrations…Anyway, I was also diagnosed with severe anemia but was never treated..through time , I lost my hair, very sluggish,gain weight but could lose with exercise, dark circles, white tongue,eyebrows short,nails and hair brittle,but what took me to the DOc was couldn’t walk far and couldn’t’t breath..well after lab work my iron levels were at 2 which should of been at 12…was admitted right away after a scare and had 4 pints of blood administered…I was looking blood and they didn’t’t know from where..stayed 5 days in the hospital, ran all sorts of tests and everything turned for the better…a pretty much complete physical..which dis covered numerous other problems that were fixed…right now I am on the thyroid med and iron twice a day…Will be seeing them soon to see where I am at but my hair is growing back my skin color is not grayish,and have lots more energy…thank you for all the info you have and I hope that I am on the road for recovery…

  8. Carolyn says:

    Thank you Jenny for addressing the thyroid. It’s vitally important info! I have a different issue in that I had my thyroid removed in May 2015. I’ve never had hyper or hypo or so my tests showed. I was told my thyroid functioned normally. I had nine non cancerous growths total on my thyroid & one was on my ithmus which caused me trouble swallowing. I was a new person the day after the surgery & all problematic symptoms were gone! One being chronic pain! I am taking synthroid & I am balanced. I’ve been doing research on & What I have yet to find is information re: ” My best life after having a Thyroidectomy!” I have trouble now after eating. What should I be eating? What should I avoid besides sugar? Dairy? I will never give up my dark chocolate! Haha! 😜 Can you recommend a resource to help me? I am so glad I found you on Pinterest! I am looking forward to following you & living an even healthier lifestyle. Thank you!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Carolyn, there is not a lot of information about what to eat and what not to eat after thyroidectomy. The information concentrates more on what to eat straight after thyroidectomy, when people experience pain and they may find it hard to swallow at first. The recommendation is to drink liquids and eat soft foods such as soup, smoothies, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, yogurt etc. But then as time goes on and the patient returns back to normality, the recommendation is simply to eat a nutritious diet containing a wide variety of foods will help your body in healing – foods rich in vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. The only specific thing I could find was regarding calcium levels. According to Cancer Research UK, often the parathyroid glands (that are right next to the thyroid gland and help to control the level of calcium in your blood) can be affected by thyroid surgery. If the parathyroid glands are not working properly, your blood calcium levels can fall below normal. It is said there that low calcium happens in between 1 and 3 out of 10 people who have a thyroidectomy. It is usually only temporary and the parathyroids normally start working again within 6 to 8 weeks of the operation, but low calcium levels can sometimes be permanent. It is worth monitoring your calcium level just to make sure they are OK, as if they are low, some people may need to take calcium supplement and possibly extra vitamin D. But other than that I couldn’t find specific recommendation other than maintaining a general healthy and balanced nutrition.

      If you have a low calcium level in your blood, you may have twitching or jerking muscles (muscle spasms). Low calcium happens in between 1 and 3 out of 10 people who have a thyroidectomy. It is usually only temporary and the parathyroids normally start working again within 6 to 8 weeks of the operation. But low calcium levels can sometimes be permanent.

  9. vanessa says:

    I have all these symptoms.had blood test and doc says nothing wrong

  10. NY says:

    How can we treatment?

    • Jenny says:

      The treatment needs to be done by a professional health practitioner, preferably endocrinologist, who can perform the required tests and decide what’s the best treatment plan.

  11. brenda says:

    i was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid in march but after 3 months on levothyroxine the dr said everything was fine now and refused me any more. working as a nurse i felt this was wrong and 2 weeks later retured to the dr who diagnosed me with mental illness.she still refuse me more levothyroxine. the mental health nurse was unable to help as she said problem was medical. i know many people including a relative(not blood related). with the condition yet not one of them said they stopped the medication and take it for life. the dr said my thyroid had healed but i believe at my age (60) this was unlikely. i registered with a new gp who tested the thyroid antibodies turns out that was were the problem was so now back on levothyroxine this time for life.

    • Jenny says:

      Under-active thyroid can indeed cause depression, and this is why it is always a good advice to receive a second opinion.

  12. Gloria says:

    Hi Jenny,

    I have three nodules on my thyroid. I refuse to take meds. My cholesterol was also high (233) but never before. Could it be that my body is producing too much cholesterol which caused the nodules in the first place ??? Please reply..thanks!

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      It is known that thyroid hormone levels affect cholesterol levels (see this study). When thyroid hormone levels are low, your body doesn’t break down and remove LDL cholesterol as efficiently as usual. Since I’m not a doctor, and hormonal issues are very complicated, it’s best to see your doctor or a specialist (endocrinologist) for further investigation.

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