Symptoms of thyroid disorders vary depending on the cause. An overactive thyroid can make you sensitive to heat, cause weight loss, and cause diarrhea. On the other hand, an underactive thyroid can lead to sensitivity to cold, weight gain, and constipation.
Any of these or other thyroid symptoms can be early signs of thyroid disease. Here’s how you might feel when you have thyroid problems and what you need to know about the most common symptoms of thyroid disease.
Your thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, has a lot to do with your body. It produces thyroid hormone (TH), which is responsible for keeping your metabolism, heart rate, and more.
There are several health conditions associated with the thyroid gland. It includes: 1
TH controls many aspects of the human body. Therefore, thyroid disease can cause several different symptoms. Find out if the symptoms you are experiencing may be related to thyroid disease.
Remember, if any of the following symptoms are associated with thyroid disease, it does not mean you have thyroid disease. In any case, it is best to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.
- Brain fog
Sure, it can be caused by lack of sleep or aging, but when your thyroid is underactive, your cognitive function can decline.
Brain fog can indicate hypothyroidism. It can cause the following symptoms: 2
Symptoms of brain fog may persist even after your TH level has stabilized.2
18 Causes of Brain Fog
- Changes in appetite, digestion and weight
TH is one factor that affects appetite, and hyperthyroidism can increase appetite. So, while hyperthyroidism is often associated with weight loss, you may also gain weight due to an increased appetite. 3
However, the symptoms associated with food cravings are not the same for everyone. For example, adults over the age of 60 have a decreased rather than increased appetite.4
Your thyroid gland is closely related to digestion. An overactive thyroid gland can cause frequent constipation or diarrhea.4 But an underactive thyroid gland can cause constipation. If something inhibits TH synthesis, digestion may slow down.5
Like appetite, TH can regulate metabolism. Therefore, weight gain and weight loss are common symptoms of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism often leads to weight gain. When people have an underactive thyroid, they tend to gain more weight because their metabolism is lower. However, excessive weight gain is rare in hypothyroidism.3
Conversely, hyperthyroidism often causes weight loss. This is because when your thyroid is overactive, your metabolism goes into high gear. Weight loss is also associated with complications of hyperthyroidism.3 If your thyroid is slightly overactive, you may not lose as much weight as if you were overactive.
- Resistant to cold and heat
How your thyroid works affects how you feel your temperature.
One symptom of hypothyroidism is an inability to take colds.5 An underactive thyroid slows down your body’s systems, meaning your cells have less energy to burn. Less power means less heat.
On the other end of the spectrum, an overactive thyroid puts energy-producing cells into overdrive. Therefore, people with hyperthyroidism are unable to tolerate heat.4
Why am I always cold? 11 Possible causes
- Difficulty sleeping
Sleep disorders associated with thyroid symptoms include insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea. Untreated thyroid disorders can exacerbate these sleep problems.6
Here’s how an underactive thyroid can be linked to these common sleep problems: 6
Insomnia: High levels of TH can cause drowsiness and difficulty falling asleep. Hyperthyroidism can worsen conditions such as anxiety and depression, which can affect your sleep. Hypothyroidism isn’t directly linked to insomnia, but it can affect the quality of your sleep by making other conditions worse. Discomfort from severe muscle and joint pain caused by an underactive thyroid gland can make it difficult for you to sleep well.
Obstructive sleep apnea: Many people with sleep apnea also have hypothyroidism, but these two