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Signs Your Thyroid is "Unhealthy," Says Physician

Don't ignore this gland.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The thyroid—that butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck—is one of those parts of the body we don't think much about. Until something goes wrong, and it's hard to ignore. "The thyroid hormone has its hands in a lot of pies, and when the thyroid isn't functioning properly, it can cause a lot of problems," says Dr. Samantha Cooper, a family medicine physician in Dallas, Texas. These are the most common signs your thyroid is out of whack. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Signs of Hypothyroidism

Sad woman on a sofa.

In hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, the thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone to release into the bloodstream. This can cause the metabolism to slow. "Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, low appetite, hair loss, always feeling cold, low blood pressure, and depression," says Dr. Danielle Kelvas, a Tennessee-based physician. 


Signs of Hyperthyroidism

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Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

Conversely, the thyroid can produce too much thyroid hormone, which can cause the metabolism and other body systems to go into overdrive. (This condition is much rarer than hypothyroidism.) "Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include palpitations, weight loss, episodes of feeling hot/flushed, high blood pressure, and diarrhea," says Kelvas. 

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Symptoms Can Be Nonspecific

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If you suspect you have a thyroid issue, it's important to see your doctor. Your level of thyroid hormone can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. "Any symptom of thyroid disease could also be a symptom of something else, including sleep deprivation, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes," says Cooper. "See your healthcare provider for proper blood work and evaluation. Don't self-diagnose a thyroid condition and self-treat, as this can cause serious harm. I screen for thyroid dysfunction at your yearly annual physical exam and oftentimes I diagnose and treat a thyroid disorder before there are any symptoms to prevent future problems."

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Who's At Risk?

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According to the Mayo Clinic, you're at increased risk of a thyroid issue if:

  • You're female
  • You're older than 60
  • You have a family history of thyroid disease
  • You have an autoimmune condition, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease
  • You've been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
  • You've received radiation to your neck or upper chest
  • You've had thyroid surgery 
  • You've been pregnant or have given birth in the last six months

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Regular Screening Important

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"If someone has a family history of thyroid disease, then I highly recommend they screen for this when they have annual labs drawn," says Kelvas. "Because thyroid disease can arise insidiously, it's important to keep up to date with your preventative appointments. Most providers include a basic thyroid screen in routine labs."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael