The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland present at the base of the neck. It plays an important role in regulating body functions. Improper functioning of this gland could lead to several health-related conditions. When the body produces less thyroid hormone than the required amount, the condition is called hypothyroidism and when the body produces more of the hormone, the condition is termed hyperthyroidism. The thyroid disorder is a silent condition but is getting diagnosed drastically.
Women are more prone to thyroid disorder than men, especially after delivery and menopause. As per a survey, nearly 1 in 3 Indians suffers from one or the other kind of thyroid disorder, which most often causes weight gain and hormonal imbalances. Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in North India while hyperthyroidism is seen mostly in west and south India.
Symptoms of an under-active thyroid are similar in men as they are in women such as weakness, fatigue, weight gain, depression, and high cholesterol dominating day-to-day life.
Warning signs of thyroid disorder
Fatigue and weakness – Regular fatigue and chronic exhaustion can be the red flags of thyroid disorder. During hyperthyroidism, metabolism increases and causes energy loss and weakness while in hypothyroidism with decreased metabolic function, lethargy and tiredness get common. This may also result in muscle weakness and joint pain.
Sudden weight gain or weight loss – Hypothyroidism may cause weight gain whereas hyperthyroidism can cause abrupt weight loss.
Sensitivity to heat and cold – In an overactive thyroid, the body burns more calories than required. It causes heat sensitivity too. Abnormal sweating, anxiety and heat intolerance are some critical signs of hyperthyroidism. In an underactive thyroid, metabolism is slowed down. Thus, these patients are more sensitive to cold temperatures and have cold hands and feet.
Darkening of the skin around the neck – It is the most common symptom of thyroid disorder. As the thyroid is responsible for hair and skin health, any alterations or changes in hormonal regulation will affect these too. If you notice any oily skin, thinning hair or brittle nails, it is good to get your thyroid levels tested.
Trouble sleeping – People having thyroid issues find difficulty in sleeping. An overactive thyroid can affect the nervous system and mood. Night sweat and frequent urination get common in hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism may cause poor quality sleep and shorter sleep span.
Irregular periods – Hormonal imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle and hinder menstrual flow. As the thyroid controls the reproductive hormone also, any alterations in hormone make periods light or heavy.
(Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other health professionals for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.)