Just How Worried Should You Be About Thyroid Disease?

While it’s been part of human anatomy literally forever, stories about unexplained fatigue, weight gain and even irregular periods that are ultimately attributed to thyroid disease have been cropping up on our newsfeeds.

Since almost all of us are more tired and worn-out than we’d like to be, it’s natural that we check with our doctors about our thyroids, in case that’s the root cause of why we’ve been so lethargic. But first, let’s find out just how worried we should be about this particular disease in the first place.

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So, what is a thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck wrapped around the windpipe, and it is responsible for making hormones that are important for different systems in the body to function properly. Just some of the inner systems your thyroid helps look after are digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development and bone maintenance.

What kinds of thyroid diseases are there?


If you’re gaining weight for no reason, pooping less frequently, feeling like you always need moisturiser, are tired all the time even though you get enough sleep, or you notice your hair is thinning or your nails keep breaking, you may be suffering from hypothyroidism. This is when you have an underactive thyroid – your gland is not producing enough of the hormones neccesary.

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Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) include unexplained weight loss, frequent sweating, a rapid heartbeat, softer poop, and (again) fatigue.

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Not everything is linked to the thyroid

Even if you aren’t experiencing any of these issues, there are other factors that suggest a blood test may be in order. Having another autoimmune disease (like type 1 diabetes), pernicious anaemia, a first-degree relative with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, certain psychiatric conditions, or taking the mood meds amiodarone or lithium have all been linked with thyroid dysfunction.

It’s common to test people who experience depression with no family history or no causal life circumstances, and people with anxiety who show some of the physical symptoms too. Your primary-care doc can schedule the test for you.



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