If you want to manage your weight, thyroid problems can keep you from realizing your goals.
The thyroid hormone affects your metabolism. If you have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), your basal metabolic rate will be low (the energy you consume at rest).
The opposite is true for an overactive gland (hyperthyroidism). If you have a high basal metabolic rate because of hyperthyroidism, you will have a negative energy balance that might cause you to lose weight.
Conversely, if you have hypothyroidism, you are likely to gain weight. It is thus vital to watch out for signs of thyroid problems if you want to control your weight or are noticing problems in your weight.
I may note that you gain more weight with hypothyroidism than you lose with hyperthyroidism.
In fact, the purpose of understanding the thyroid is so that you can fix the problem and go back to normalcy. That way, you’d be able to lose weight like a normal person who doesn’t have a thyroid malfunction
Warning signs of thyroid problems
1. Weight gain or weight loss
If you have an underactive thyroid, your metabolism is suboptimal. Therefore, you burn fewer calories than you consume and the excess calories as stored as fat. This results in weight gain. In this study, it was shown that subjects gained enough weight to make them obese.
On the flip side, if your thyroid is overactive, your body tends to use up more energy from your diet than it did when you were healthy. Therefore, you are likely to experience weight loss.
Usually, this weight gain or weight loss may occur unexpectedly and maybe in spite of normal eating patterns.
2. Muscle weakness
One of the common signs of thyroid problems in both the hyper and the underactive states is muscle weakness.
Sometimes the weakness may occur all over the body or it could be in the shoulder and thigh muscles specifically. You may feel this weakness heighten when you climb the stairs or raise your hands to comb your hair.
In rare cases, a person with hypothyroidism may develop muscle stiffness and weakness as well as pain. You may trigger muscle atrophy (muscle loss) when you engage in vigorous exercise.
3. Dry skin or sweating
Dry skin manifests mostly in hypothyroid cases while sweating is common in hyperthyroid cases. In the former condition, dry skin may have deep cracks or appear scaly. Your skin may look pale and cool.
Conversely, a person with hyperthyroidism may report excess sweating because their metabolism is on overdrive.
For some people, it gives the appearance of velvet-like skin similar to that of a baby. You may experience flashing in the palms and face too.
4. Puffiness and swelling
Hypothyroidism is usually accompanied by puffiness or a swollen face. This may be more pronounced on the lips, tongue, and eyelids.
In fact, people with protruding eyes could have thyroid problems. Goiter or a swelling neck can also be a cause for concern.
You may have some reddish spots on your skin. Certain patients report lumps and patches, especially on their legs. There may also be rashes on skin creases.
5. Hair loss, thinning or eye-reddening
For people with an underactive gland, hair loss is one of the typical signs of thyroid problems. Your hair may look dry, coarse and brittle. You may start to see balding patches or slow hair growth. There could also be itchiness and dandruff.
It is also possible that the hair on your legs and arms as well as on your eyebrows may start to thin. In cases of hyperthyroidism, it is common to have red eyes instead of hair loss.
6. Irregular menstruation
Menstrual irregularities are one of the commonest signs of thyroid problems. The thyroid gland regulates reproduction through the ovaries as well as the sex hormone globulin.
If there is a malfunction in your thyroid, you are likely to report problems related to your cycle.
People with hyperthyroidism have absent or infrequent periods. The flow is light as well. Conversely, people with hypothyroidism have heavy and prolonged menses.
7. Gastrointestinal problems
Thyroid disease causes a lot of stomach complications. Individuals with hypothyroidism often experience bloating, flatulence, and constipation. They may also be nauseous and might vomit.
Conversely, people with hyperthyroidism have accelerated gastric release or diarrhea. In this study, it was reported that thyroid malfunctions can compress the esophagus or slow down/ heighten movement of particles in the gut.
8. Heart complications
There is a connection between your thyroid and your cardiac system. If you have low levels of thyroid hormone, your heart rate may reduce.
Furthermore, a hypoactive thyroid causes inflexible arteries, which rarely circulate enough blood around your body.
On the flip side, hyperthyroidism increases your heart rate. It also beats harder than normal. You may thus develop high blood pressure and stiffness of the heart arteries.
9. Cognitive problems
People with hypothyroidism often experience forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. In this study, it was shown that the condition causes neurology deficits that affect memory.
It is also common to report mild dementia and inability to engage in executive functioning (impulse control, planning, and decision-making). Hyperthyroid victims struggle to concentrate, react slowly and may not organize things spatially.
When you have thyroid dysfunction, it may also cause mood disorders or psychiatric disorders. In this study, it was shown that the mood abnormalities in hypothyroid cases lead to depression.
However, the relationship is not direct since most people with thyroid problems don’t develop depression.
11. Fatigue or restlessness
Fatigue is one of the leading signs of thyroid problems. Since the thyroid is responsible for energy balance, if it is abnormally low, you would have very little energy. Your basal metabolic rate will have dropped to a level sufficient for only the most benign activities. Therefore, you will feel lethargic.
On the other hand, people with excessive thyroid hormones have too much energy and feel very jittery. In this study, subjects with thyroid disorders reported cases of restless leg syndrome.
12. Shaky hands
This can occur with hyperthyroidism. Since there is an excess amount of thyroid hormone, your entire metabolic system is on overdrive. The result could be shaky hands.
This jitteriness demonstrates that there is a chemical in your body that is doing too much of what it is supposed to.
The Bottom Line
If you have any of the following signs in isolation, it may not be a thyroid problem. However, if you experience a number of them then visit a doctor and get it tested.
Women who have had a history of anemia, type 1 diabetes or those that are menopausal are especially vulnerable to it. In case you are trying to lose weight and can’t, addressing your thyroid complications could crack this problem.
Luckily, you can improve your thyroid condition while losing weight by following our new 28-day weight loss challenge.