Unusual signs your thyroid may be out of whack

Unusual signs your thyroid may be out of whack

As many as 20 million Americans of all ages have thyroid disease, and at least half remain undiagnosed. Women are at a much higher risk of developing thyroid problems than men, with nearly 1 in 8 women developing a thyroid disease in their lifetime.

“It’s important for people to know and recognize the symptoms of thyroid disease, especially women,” says Dr. Mehul Vora, an endocrinologist with Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “Unfortunately, the most common symptoms of thyroid disease – things like extreme exhaustion or unexpected weight gain or loss – are easily overlooked or attributed to stress or lifestyle.”

Below, Dr. Vora offers insight into three less common symptoms to which women should pay special attention.

Irregular periods

The thyroid’s primary job is to produce hormones and regulate your body’s metabolism. In women, it can also affect the menstrual cycle.

Hypothyroidism (when the thyroid is not working hard enough) can cause periods to be longer, heavier and more painful than usual. On the flip side, hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid is working too hard) can cause lighter periods, or even stop them altogether.

“The risk of thyroid problems increases as a person ages, so unfortunately, women can easily mistake these symptoms as menopausal,” says Dr. Vora. “In younger women, unaddressed issues can also affect their fertility and ability to get pregnant.”

Mood issues & brain fog

Mood swings, anxiety and depression can be worsened by an abnormal thyroid level. An underactive thyroid can also cause forgetfulness or “brain fog,” making it hard to focus in your daily life. An overactive thyroid can make you anxious, and cause palpitations or an irregular heartbeat.

“If you’re struggling with fatigue or depression, are feeling distracted and forgetful, or if you show any other symptoms such as weight gain or excessive weight loss, your thyroid could be playing a role,” says Dr. Vora. “A simple blood test by your physician may give you answers.”


A slow thyroid isn’t producing as much hormone as it should, and this can cause trouble in your gut in the form of constipation. If your thyroid is too active, it can have the opposite effect, causing diarrhea and frequent trips to the bathroom.

“Constipation can be caused by a huge number of things, so you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and assume you have thyroid problems from the start,” says Dr. Vora. “If, however, the constipation or diarrhea is an ongoing problem, you should discuss it with your doctor so you can get to the bottom of it.”

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  1. If all your numbers are good but you have some of the symptoms, how do you get your doctor to try treatment for your thryoid. Especially if it runs in the family.

  2. Lee, get another doctor

  3. How can I be put on levothyroxine for 2 years then taken off??? I thought you are on it for life. I have put on 20 pounds exhausted and feel awful

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.