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Signs You May Have Thyroid Problems

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Feeling blue and can't lose weight? Your thyroid may be to blame. Read on about the top signs you may have thyroid problems and what you can do to reverse the problem.

Thyroid problems affect millions of Americans each year. Thyroid issues are not only common among women, they can affect men as well. Genetics is a large contributor to thyroid risk and the condition is passed down from mother to child.

The American Thyroid Association reports that about 12 percent of all Americans will deal with a thyroid issue at some point in their lives, and the number could be much higher. A lot of individuals do not realize they have a thyroid issue, but instead, are left wondering why it is so hard for them to lose weight.

Read on to learn the common signs you may have thyroid problems below.

Who is at Risk?

Although thyroid problems can affect women and men, women are about eight times more likely to have thyroid issues. This is largely due to the thyroid's susceptibility to hormone imbalance. Women who have had been pregnant are more likely to have an imbalance of thyroid hormones, as the thyroid slows the metabolism during pregnancy to ensure the fetus receives enough nutrients, but some women are never able to heal their thyroid after pregnancy.

If you have had sudden weight gain or sudden weight loss, it could be a sign that your thyroid is having trouble. In general, most adults are far more likely to have an underactive thyroid than an overactive thyroid. An underactive thyroid slows the metabolism and makes it difficult to lose weight.

About 80 percent of individuals with thyroid problems do not even realize they have thyroid issues. However, if you have any of the signs below, it is likely your thyroid is not performing optimally.

Signs of a Thyroid Problem

If you have several of these symptoms without any other cause, your thyroid may be to blame. If you notice more than three of the symptoms on this list in your own body, it may be time for a trip to the doctor to check your thyroid hormone levels.

Sudden Weight Gain (or loss)

The thyroid is in charge of the metabolism. This means that if it is out of balance, you can suddenly have a metabolism that nearly grinds to a halt, or in rarer cases, one that suddenly speeds up and causes significant weight loss. If you have a sluggish thyroid, you will suddenly start to gain weight without any activity or diet changes. If you do try to diet, you won't see much change on the scale at all, even if you are exercising or eating healthy food. If you have struggled to lose weight for years, it is highly likely your thyroid is to blame.

Sudden Hair Loss

If you brush your hair in the morning and see enough new hairs in the brush to make a wig, there is a problem. Normal hair loss is about 100 hairs a day, spread out throughout the day. If you can run your fingers through your hair and you pull out more than a hair or two, or worse, a handful, something is seriously wrong. That something is likely related to your thyroid. Hair can feel significantly thinner in just a few months. It is possible that you won't notice the hair loss until your thyroid problems have been present for several months. However, any unexplained hair loss is worth looking into.

Sudden Fatigue

Your metabolism not only controls your weight, but it also controls your energy level. If your metabolism slows, you won't want to do anything any more. You won't have energy to exercise, go out of the house as much, and you might feel extremely tired mid-way through the day even with plenty of sleep. This can make everyday tasks a challenge, like getting the dishes done, or making it to work on time. You may feel tired after climbing a set of stairs, or feel completely wiped out after just a few minutes of exercise.

Sudden Appetite Loss

If your metabolism is working properly, your body will crave food. But, with a sluggish thyroid, you won't feel hungry as often. You will need fewer calories, but even if you are eating less, you might still gain weight because you are still not using all the calories you used to. You may find it harder to know when to stop eating because you never quite feel hungry. This can compound the trouble with your metabolism, leading to weight gain from several arenas.

Irregular Periods

Women with thyroid problems may find themselves with irregular periods. This can result in periods that are suddenly heavier, longer, lighter, more painful, or that come at unexpected times. In the worst cases, you can even lose your period for a few months at a time.

Feeling Hot or Cold all the Time

Depending on whether you are making too little or too much thyroid hormones, your temperature can change. If you have too much thyroid hormones, you are likely to feel hot all the time. If you have too few hormones, you may feel cold all the time. However, just because you always run hot or cold does not necessarily mean that you can easily identify if you have an overactive or underactive thyroid. Some individuals with a sluggish thyroid can still feel hot all the time.

Weird Muscle Pains

If you have a sluggish thyroid, you likely also are suffering from weird muscle pains. This pain includes tenderness, joint pain, aching muscles, swelling in the joints, edema, stiffness, and other mild aches and pains. Sitting still for long periods is likely to make the problem worse. Moving around and stretching frequently can make a big difference in thyroid-related muscle pain.

The Blues

If you are suddenly feeling down and a little depressed, it could be related to your hormones. Women and men with sluggish thyroids are more likely to report symptoms of general sadness and depression.

Brain Fog

The hormones regulated by your thyroid also are related to your mental health. When your thyroid is out of balance, your mental health may also be out of balance. Individuals suffering from a sluggish thyroid often report that they feel "hazy" "in a fog" or "out of it." These can all be symptoms that your thyroid is no longer working properly.

Treating a Sluggish Thyroid

The first step to fixing any thyroid problem is to have your thyroid checked by a doctor. Your doctor will be able to identify the precise problem in your thyroid (both T3 and T4 hormones can be out of balance). Additionally, your doctor can search for signs of thyroid cancer, which, while not common, will cause thyroid problems and can spread to other areas of the body. Most cases of a sluggish thyroid, however, are simply caused by hormone imbalances which can be treated with a combination of synthetic thyroid hormones and lifestyle changes, or just lifestyle changes alone. The following natural treatments for a sluggish thyroid have been shown to be effective at boosting thyroid hormone levels:

Eat Clean

A clean diet can go a long way toward boosting your thyroid. Extreme and sudden diets are likely to cause your metabolism to drop even further, so don't make any sudden diet changes. Instead, remove sugar, refined carbs, and junk food from your diet and work from there to slowly clean up your diet to include mainly healthy fats, protein, and vegetables and fruit.

Eat Nutrients that Boost Thyroid Function

A few nutrients are essential to the health of your thyroid. You can consume these through supplement form or by eating more of the foods that contain these nutrients. In the early stages, however, you may find that supplementing for a few months helps you see the results you want faster.

Nutrients for a Healthy Thyroid 

Eat More Protein

Protein is essential to a healthy thyroid. If you don't give your thyroid enough protein, it doesn't have enough to work with to produce the hormones to regulate your metabolism. Add a source of protein to every meal, by eating more nuts, meat, eggs, fish, legumes, and beans.

Relax

Stress can cause significant changes in your metabolism and thyroid. During stress, your body has an ancient response that makes it hold on to fat, because in the life of early humans, the main source of stress was either an attack or a famine. Your body tries to hang on to all the fat it can keep during times of stress. Letting go of stress will make a significant difference in your thyroid hormone levels.

Reduce Gluten

Intake While not all gluten is bad, in some cases, gluten can be harmful to the thyroid. Individuals who have Hashimoto's disease have a condition where the body mistakes the thyroid for gluten and attacks them both. This causes continual irritation and stress in the thyroid.

Eat More Fat

Fat is essential not only for the absorption of some nutrients, but also for proper hormone production, specifically thyroid hormones. Boosting healthy fat intake will give your thyroid the fuel it needs. Try adding nuts, olive oil, butter, avocado, flaxseed oil, fish oil, coconut milk, and more cheese to your diet.

Take Probiotics

Your thyroid is dependant on other systems in the body including the digestive system. If your digestive bacteria is out of balance, it is likely you are hurting your thyroid as well. If you frequently take antibiotics, you will benefit from the addition of probiotics to your daily diet.

You Can Reverse a Sluggish Thyroid

Your body is dependant on what you feed it and how you treat it. Your thyroid is no exception. A bad diet and stressful lifestyle will wreak havoc on your thyroid and metabolism, causing problems throughout the body. If you notice and signs you may have thyroid problems in your own body, take these steps to reverse the problem now and prevent future damage to your body that can result in serious medical complications and even death.

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