Something that seems to be (unfortunately) becoming more and more prevalent amongst my clients and the general population is thyroid imbalance. It is estimated that one in eight women will develop a thyroid problem at some point in their lives, whether that is hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid).
Here are 5 signs that you may have a thyroid imbalance that needs to be addressed…
If you are often cold, wrapping yourself in multiple layers and fuzzy blankets while everyone else around you is comfortable in a t-shirt, this is may be a sign of a sluggish thyroid. Since hypothyroidism slows your metabolism, it can also decrease your core body temperature. One of the best ways to actually measure this is to take your temperature every morning upon waking (make sure to take your temperature while still in bed), and if you note temperatures below 97.5 Fahrenheit for multiple days of the month, further testing for hypothyroidism might be necessary. Conversely, if you are overly sensitive to heat and feel that you often run warm, this may be a sign of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
Your skin and hair are often clear indicators of your body’s overall health, and in the case of thyroid imbalance, can provide important clues as to what exactly the issue might be. Common physical signs of hypothyroidism include pale, dry, coarse skin as well as yellowing of the palms and soles of the feet. Hyperthyroidism often causes thin, flushed looking skin that tends to feel warm or moist to the touch. In both conditions, brittle, thinning hair (or hair loss altogether) and the loss of the outer edges of the eyebrows can occur. Any changes in your nails may be a clear sign of an imbalance as well such as thick, brittle nails or nails that lift up from the nail beds.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism impact your metabolism, consequently impacting your weight. While hypothyroidism decreases the production of the hormone thyroxine and slows down the metabolism leading to weight gain, hyperthyroidism increases thyroxine production, which speeds up the metabolism and can lead to weight loss. If you notice unexplainable weight changes that cannot be associated with the changing of your diet, exercise routine or stress levels, this may be an indicator of imbalanced thyroid health.
For women that are still in their fertile years, too much or too little thyroid hormone can make your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. Hypothyroidism reduces sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can increase estrogen levels and cause heavier periods, therefore a heavier than normal flow can be a sign of an underactive thyroid. In contrast, hyperthyroidism increases SHBG and can consequently cause lighter periods. It is also worth noting any irregularities in cycle length as well as the absences of a period altogether.
An underactive thyroid tends to make people feel more sluggish, depressed and low energy, while an overactive thyroid can cause restlessness, anxiety and sleep issues. Both ends of the spectrum are cause for concern as these symptoms can heavily impact your general day-to-day activity and motivation. Leaving your thyroid issues untreated for too long can have carryover effects into your relationships, your work and your social life as you are either too tired to keep up with demands or too on-edge to relax.