Symptoms Of Thyroid Disorders You Shouldn't Ignore

Whoever came up with the phrase "good things come in small packages" probably wasn't thinking of the thyroid — but perhaps they should have been. Although this gland is only roughly 2 inches long, it is essential for many of your body's most crucial functions (via WebMD). By producing hormones, the thyroid helps regulate your metabolism, your body temperature, and your heart rate. It even has a hand in whether or not your cholesterol gets too high. This is why it's so important to not ignore the signs that your thyroid might be malfunctioning.

Of course, if you suspect something is wrong, you should contact a health care professional rather than try to diagnose yourself. However, it's good to be aware of the different types of thyroid disorders and their possible symptoms so you can recognize when to reach out for medical help. For example, your thyroid can become sluggish and not make enough hormones if you have hypothyroidism, or it can become overly active and start producing too many hormones (specifically the hormone thyroxine) if you have hyperthyroidism (via Mayo Clinic). And while these conditions can share symptoms, they also can have opposite effects on your body.

In addition to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer is classified as a thyroid disorder, according to MedicineNet. And, yes, it can produce some of the same symptoms as having an overactive or underactive thyroid. This is yet another reason why knowing the potential signs of all thyroid disorders is so important.

Changes in mood

As Medical News Today explains, mood swings can be due to a number of conditions, including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. However, if your thyroid is not functioning properly, that can also alter your mood — and in very different ways depending on which thyroid disorder you have.

Hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid is producing too many hormones, can make someone irritable, restless, anxious, and nervous (via Mayo Clinic). But a thyroid that is not producing enough hormones (hypothyroidism) can make someone feel depressed.

As the Mayo Clinic notes, it's not common to only experience depression or anxiety if you have an overactive or an underactive thyroid You will likely experience other symptoms. But regardless of the cause, contact your health care professional if you are experiencing mood swings. "Appropriate treatment — such as medication that blocks your body's ability to produce new thyroid hormone or replaces missing thyroid hormone — usually improves both emotional and physical symptoms caused by thyroid disease," the Mayo Clinic explained.

Changes in bowel habits

If you think about it, it's not surprising that thyroid disorders can cause issues in the bathroom. Remember, the hormones created by your thyroid are important for your body to process foods (via Verywell Health). And if you guessed that an overactive thyroid causes different bowel movement problems than an underactive one, you'd be absolutely right.

According to Verywell Health, hypothyroidism not only causes your thyroid to become sluggish but other parts of your body connected to digesting food and removing waste products slow down too. As a result, you could experience constipation, explained the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Per Verywell Health, you may also experience pain in your abdomen. And while hypothyroidism can also cause diarrhea, loose bowel movements usually happen infrequently.

However, if your thyroid is overactive, you might experience diarrhea often (via NIDDK). This is because the extra thyroid hormones in your system rev up your intestines so they produce more fluids. Besides diarrhea, hyperthyroidism can cause other issues connected to how you process food, including indigestion (via Verywell Health). You may also find yourself hungry more often. In addition, hyperthyroidism can make it harder for your body to absorb fats, which can affect your weight.

Voice changes

Do you remember the last time you had a cold and your voice didn't sound the same? Maybe you were very congested, making you sound like Elmer Fudd's cousin. Or maybe your voice became a whisper and your family and friends couldn't understand what you were saying. As unpleasant as it was, however, you knew that once you felt better, your voice would go back to normal. Unfortunately, voice changes because of thyroid disorders don't just go away in a few days, and they can be signs of serious health problems.

According to EndocrineWeb, sometimes growths called nodules can form on the thyroid. Now, keep in mind that the thyroid is right next to the voice box (via EndocrineWeb). Thyroid nodules can actually push against the voice box, altering one's voice. And while the majority of these growths are not dangerous, they can be malignant, meaning a hoarse voice could be a sign of thyroid cancer.

Besides cancer, an overactive or an underactive thyroid can also affect your voice. According to the study in The Eurasian Journal of Medicine, the voice box has receptors for the hormones produced by your thyroid. When less of these hormones are in your system, it can make your voice sound rougher and lower. In addition, higher levels of thyroid hormones can not only change the frequency of one's voice, but also can make one's voice hoarser.


Let's be clear: There is a difference between being tired and being fatigued (via Verywell Health). If you're tired, a little downtime and some sleep should have you feeling ready to take on the day. But if you're fatigued, no amount of sleep will get rid of that exhausted feeling. And, unfortunately, more than one thyroid disorder can cause fatigue.

As Verywell Health explains, feeling exhausted is a common symptom of an underactive thyroid. Additionally, it can be a red flag that how you're being treated for hypothyroidism might not be working well enough. The level of fatigue you might feel with a sluggish thyroid can include difficulty getting up in the morning, frequently needing to nap, and falling asleep very quickly when you go to bed. And even though hyperthyroidism is the opposite condition (your thyroid is too active), it can cause sleeping problems, which in turn can cause fatigue.

Besides having a hyperactive or a hypoactive thyroid, extreme exhaustion can also be a red flag for thyroid cancer (via Clayman Thyroid Center). While the connection between thyroid cancer and fatigue is not fully understood, some thyroid cancer patients find their exhaustion quickly goes away after surgery. But be warned: Thyroid cancer doesn't usually alter the levels of thyroid hormones in your system the way other thyroid disorders do. So, if you're fatigued, and your health care professional has ruled out hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, make sure they also test for thyroid cancer.

Irregular periods

The good news is a thyroid that is only a little sluggish or a little overactive is not likely to disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle (via Verywell Health). But the flip side of that coin is if your thyroid is causing your period to be irregular, then your thyroid might be severely hypoactive or hyperactive.

Remember, the thyroid produces and secretes hormones, which can impact how well a woman's ovaries function (via Verywell Health). So if the thyroid isn't producing enough of those hormones, a woman could experience heavier than normal periods and an irregular menstrual cycle. In addition, a woman with an underactive or overactive thyroid may experience missed periods. And unusually light periods that don't last as long as they normally would is another possible telltale sign of hyperthyroidism.

Besides directly affecting the ovaries, the thyroid can also indirectly cause issues for a woman's menstrual cycle (via Verywell Health). When the thyroid produces too many hormones, it can cause the body to make too much of a protein needed to help transport reproductive hormones to where they need to be in the body. The results can be not menstruating at all. In addition, hyperthyroidism can lead to infertility and increase the chances of having a miscarriage.

Skin changes

People often say you should have a "thick skin" when it comes to criticism. In fact, "thin-skinned" is a way of saying someone is too sensitive to negative feedback. But if you have a thyroid disorder, these expressions are no longer just metaphors.

As Verywell Health explains, having lower levels of thyroid hormones in your system can cause your skin to become thicker. And this is hardly the only way that a sluggish thyroid can impact your skin's health and appearance. Other common symptoms of a hypoactive thyroid include dry skin and scaliness, particularly on the elbows and knees. In addition, a person with a severe case of hypothyroidism could develop a condition called myxedema in which their skin becomes coarse, their tongue could get bigger, and their face could become puffy. Hypothyroidism can even be responsible for thinning skin (via Hunterdon Digestive Health Specialists).

Besides hypothyroidism, a person could also notice changes in their skin if they have a thyroid that produces too many hormones (via Verywell Health). Specifically, they might find their skin is very smooth and extremely sensitive. They also could have two different types of rashes: miliaria and pretibial myxedema. With miliaria, bumps will appear on the person's face. On the other hand, someone with pretibial myxedema could develop a rash on their shins. So, if you notice any changes to your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist or your health care professional.

Cognitive issues

We've all had those moments when we can't remember someone's name or forget where we put our keys. However, lapses in memory can also be a symptom of thyroid problems. Additionally, "several researchers have questioned whether hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism increases the risk for dementia to develop," according to Verywell Health. As the site explains, dementia can impact a person's quality of life as their memory, focus, and judgment diminishes.

Even if thyroid disorders do not lead to the condition, a person whose thyroid is not producing the right amount of hormones can appear to have mild dementia. If someone has hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), this can lead to issues with their verbal memory and concentration, as well as their ability to plan, make decisions, and control their impulses. And while hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is too active or "hyper," it can actually slow down a person's reaction times. In addition, a hyperactive thyroid might make it harder to concentrate and take in and process what a person sees (via Verywell Health).

Although it can be frightening to think of a condition affecting one's mind, there's a positive aspect to the thyroid being the culprit behind cognitive issues. Once a thyroid disorder is properly diagnosed and treated, odds are the person will regain their cognitive functions like memory.

Pulse changes

If you have heart disease, you definitely do not want to ignore this next possible symptom of a thyroid disorder. According to Harvard Health, hormones created by your thyroid can impact your circulatory system including how strong and fast your heartbeat is. Because of this, problems with your thyroid can take a case of heart disease and make it more severe. In addition, the symptoms of thyroid disorders are sometimes mistaken for heart issues, which can delay proper treatment.

When you have hypothyroidism, your heartbeat can slow. Plus, less thyroid hormone circulating throughout your system can also impact your arteries, making them more rigid. This, in turn, can force your heart to pump with more force and in the process raise your blood pressure. In addition, lower levels of thyroid hormones can have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels further complicating your heart's efforts to keep blood properly circulating in your body.

Besides hypothyroidism, a person can experience changes in their pulse because of an overactive thyroid although this is a rare occurrence (via Harvard Health). Specifically, a person with hyperthyroidism could have heart palpitations, chest pain, and an abnormal heart rate.

Hair loss

We often think of animals as shedding their fur, but we humans also shed our hair. Now, optimally when one hair falls out, another is ready below the skin to take its place (via Healthline). But if you have a thyroid disorder, those new hairs might not sprout, leaving your hair thinner and even missing in places.

As Healthline explains, the hormones produced by your thyroid are important to keep your hair's cycle of growth and regrowth going. But when those hormones become too high or too low, it can break the cycle not just for the hair on the top of your head but also your eyebrows. It is possible that someone with hair loss because of a thyroid disorder won't develop any baldness — and dramatic changes in their hair's appearance won't happen overnight. Instead, a person might notice a gradually thinning effect in which their hair doesn't seem as full as it once did. But with that said, alopecia, a type of autoimmune condition involving bald patches, is commonly seen in people with thyroid disorders.

If you have lost hair because of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, there is good news. With proper treatment, it is possible to regain your lost hair growth (via Healthline). If you have been noticing changes in your hair, don't excuse it as something inevitable — especially if you have any of the other symptoms of thyroid disorders.

Fluctuations in weight

Since your thyroid helps regulate a person's metabolism, it makes sense that changes in one's weight can happen when the thyroid isn't working properly (via American Thyroid Association). Unfortunately, that means if a thyroid disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated, someone could find it impossible to maintain or lose weight.

As the American Thyroid Association explains, when a person has an overactive thyroid, they tend to lose weight. In fact, the more severe their hyperthyroidism is, the lower their weight tends to drop. This is because the more thyroid hormones in your system, the more your metabolism can get revved up to burn off the calories you take in from foods and beverages. Of course, hyperthyroidism can also make one feel hungry more often, which can counteract the effects of the revved-up metabolism. In fact, sometimes a person with an overactive thyroid might gain weight, depending on their diet. It greatly depends on how severe their hyperthyroidism is.

Weight loss is a common symptom of an overactive thyroid, while weight gain usually happens if the thyroid is not producing enough hormones (via American Thyroid Association). And like with hyperthyroidism, just how much weight is gained is tied to how severely the thyroid is underperforming. Fortunately, the most weight a person on average usually gains from a sluggish thyroid is around 5 to 10 pounds.

Nail changes

It's easy to ignore problems with our nails. If they break, we usually shrug it off as no big deal, get the nail file, and move on with our day. But dry, brittle nails could be a red flag that your thyroid is not making enough hormones (via Medical News Today). And, unfortunately, that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how your thyroid can change your nails' growth and appearance.

Take a moment to look at your nails. No matter how much polish you might be wearing or how long you keep them, you should be able to see where they are attached to the skin on your finger. According to the University of Michigan, if your nails separate from the skin, creating an unnatural gap between the nail and the nail bed, this is a symptom of an overactive thyroid. Treating this condition, known as onycholysis, is unfortunately not a quick fix even with proper hyperthyroidism treatment. As Healthline explains, it can take as long as six months for a person's fingernails to completely recover from a case of onycholysis. In addition, your toenails can also develop onycholysis, and it could take a full year before you're ready to wear sandals again.

Besides onycholysis, other common red flags your nails might be sending you about a thyroid disorder include growing in softer, thicker, or curved (via American Academy of Dermatology Association). You also might notice swelling at your fingertip and thicker skin around your nails.


We've all heard that feeling very choked up emotionally is like having a lump in your throat. However, it is possible to have a literal lump inside your neck that can cause visible swelling (via Mayo Clinic). Known as a goiter, this condition can occur because your thyroid becomes larger or lumps form on your thyroid.

It is possible to have a lump on your thyroid that doesn't make your neck swell to any great extent (via Mayo Clinic). A goiter can signal hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (via MedicineNet). In addition, a goiter can be a warning sign of thyroid cancer, although this is not a very common occurrence.

Regardless of the reason, if you have a goiter, you should contact your health care professional right away. Outside of hormone imbalances, a goiter can cause health issues like making it harder to breathe and swallow food and drink (via Mayo Clinic). In addition, a goiter can interfere with your voice box, making your voice hoarser. Other signs you might have a small goiter that is not visible are snoring and coughing.

Feeling too hot or too cold

As Medical News Today explains, when your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can amplify how temperature affects you. If you consistently feel chilled on a warm day or hot on a cool day, you may want to consider if your thyroid could be to blame.

Although researchers are still exploring how the thyroid is involved, there does seem to be a connection between how thyroid hormones affect someone's metabolism and temperature sensitivity (via Medical News Today). One animal study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that the incorrect amount of thyroid hormones caused the blood vessels in mice to dilate too much, which led to them losing body heat from their tails. To compensate for the loss in body temperature, the mice's metabolisms went into overdrive and began burning a specific type of fat. The same could be true in humans.

Muscle issues

Since the a malfunctioning thyroid can impact your heart muscle, it's not surprising that it can also have a negative effect on the other muscles in your body (via Harvard). And, of course, the amount of hormones your thyroid produces can play a major role in this possible symptom of a thyroid disorder.

According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a person can experience a couple of different types of muscle diseases as a result of thyroid problems: hyperthyroid myopathy and hypothyroid myopathy. As its name suggests, hyperthyroid myopathy can occur when your thyroid is producing too many hormones (hyperthyroidism). As a result, your muscles become weaker, including the muscles of your respiratory system. On the other hand, a person with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can experience hypothyroid myopathy where their muscles could become stiff, cramped, and even enlarged. In addition, they might find their reflexes aren't as sharp as they used to be.

Although hyperthyroid myopathy and hypothyroid myopathy are caused by opposite thyroid issues, they can share some symptoms (via Muscular Dystrophy Association). For example, they can both cause muscle weakness in the shoulders and the hips, and both can be fatal if they progress to the point that one's muscles start breaking down (a condition called rhabdomyolysis). The important thing to remember is both of these conditions can affect just about every muscle in your body, so if you suspect you have either of these conditions, contact your health care professional.