Your thyroid is one of the most important glands in your body. This butterfly-shaped gland can be in the neck and is responsible for producing the triiodothyronine, thyroxine and calcitonin hormones. When there is a problem with the thyroid or another medical condition, the thyroid’s hormone levels can become too high or too low, which can result in other conditions that affect the body. It is important to know how to recognize the signs that your thyroid hormone levels are off so that you can seek the appropriate medical care.
Feeling more tired than usual for prolonged periods can have many causes, but a thyroid hormone imbalance may be to blame. Hypothyroidism, which results when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of one or more of its hormones, can cause feelings of chronic fatigue. If your thyroid hormone levels are low, you may feel tired even after sleeping for long periods. You may also be sleeping longer than normal without feeling so tired when you go about your day.
In a case of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland becomes overactive, and this can cause you to feel more nervous and jittery than usual. You may find it difficult to rest even after a long day if your thyroid gland is producing too much hormone. An unusual feeling or irritability can also occur when the thyroid gland is overactive.
Heartbeat can be affected when the thyroid is overactive. You may feel that your heart is beating faster than normal even while you are at rest. Your heart may also feel as though it is skipping beats. A fluttering sensation that is felt in your heart region and up into your throat may also be felt if hyperthyroidism is causing an irregular heartbeat. You might not even feel your heart beating irregularly, and it may be your doctor who detects the problem when listening to your heartbeat with a stethoscope.
Other Potentially Serious Causes of an Irregular Heartbeat
If your irregular heartbeat is caused by a thyroid problem, the issue can usually be treated with medication easily. The irregular heartbeat may also be affected by natural processes in your body or other relatively harmless factors. However, an irregular heartbeat can also be a sign of a more serious problem, and you should seek medical care as soon as possible if your heartbeat feels like it’s off regularly.
Other potentially serious causes of an irregular heartbeat include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Atrial flutter
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Long QT syndrome
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
Hair loss often occurs because of estrogen or testosterone deficiencies, but an imbalance of your thyroid’s hormone levels may also be to blame. An overactive thyroid can cause the hair to become thin and fine in texture. If your thyroid is not producing enough hormone, your hair may even start falling out from your scalp and other areas of your body.
A goiter is an unusual enlargement of part of the thyroid gland that sometimes grows because of a hormone imbalance. This growth often resembles a lump and can even cause difficulties in breathing, eating and talking if it grows large. A condition known as Hashimoto’s disease can cause hypothyroidism, which may stimulate the pituitary gland into making more of the TSH hormone that can sometimes enlarge the thyroid.
However, it is important to note that lumps in the neck can also be caused by:
- Grave’s disease
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Thyroid cancer
Unexplained Weight Gain
Even if you have been exercising regularly and eating healthy, you could still be putting on weight if you have a thyroid hormone imbalance. This sometimes results when thyroid hormone levels are too low and the body’s metabolism slows. You might also experience weight gain that is difficult to control if a thyroid hormone imbalance has lowered your energy levels and made exercising for long periods more difficult for you.
If your thyroid hormone levels are too high or too low, there are many treatment options that are available to help regulate these levels. Your treatment options may include:
- Prescription medications, such as levothyroxine or liothyronine
- Radioiodine therapy
- Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid
Being aware of these and any other unusual symptoms can help you keep thyroid imbalance problems to a minimum. If you have additional questions about the signs of a thyroid hormone imbalance or want to get more information on the available treatment options, please call us at (205) 352-9141.