By Mila McManus MD
Many of you out there know some of the common symptoms of low thyroid function, such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, headaches, hair loss, depression, and cold intolerance. I’ve also explained to many of you how the thyroid functions in the body. Think of this gland as your engine. If your engine is too ‘revved up’ (i.e., hyperthyroid), bodily functions will be overactive, such as overactive nerves causing jitters, shakiness, anxiety, fast heart rate, palpitations, and high blood pressure. Bowels may be overactive causing excessive bowel movements or loose stools. Temperature gets higher, metabolism gets faster, and so on. If your engine slows down (i.e., hypothyroid), bodily functions slow down. Energy gets lower, brain function gets slower, mood is lower, bowels are slower, pain threshold is lower, temperature is lower, metabolism is slower, and so on. It’s also important to note that some symptoms can occur on either end of the spectrum. For instance, you can be tired if thyroid function is low or high. You can lose weight or gain weight on both ends of the spectrum. You can be shedding hair when thyroid is under-active or overactive. And also noteworthy: 1) symptoms can vary, such as you may have normal bowel function, but have other symptoms of low thyroid, and 2) having normal thyroid labs does NOT mean that your thyroid is functioning adequately. (You can read about that here.) Moreover, there are many factors that affect how well your thyroid functions at the cellular level, including diet, gut health, stress, toxins, vitamin deficiencies, and imbalance of other hormones in the body.
Having said all of that, today I wanted to share some less well known signs and symptoms that may indicate a thyroid problem:
- High cholesterol
- Dry patches on elbows
- Slow speech
- Fluid retention
- Swollen eyelids
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Downturned mouth
- Twitching of the eyelid
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Mild elevation of liver enzymes
- Recurrent bladder infections
If you think you may have low or suboptimal thyroid function, you can test yourself here with our online symptom checker.
References: Dr. Pamela Smith lecture at A4M conference 2015