Pound for pound, your thyroid—the small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your throat—may be the most powerful part of your internal anatomy. The hormones it pumps out regulate everything from your appetite and energy levels to your body’s internal thermostat. That’s all well and good when it’s working properly. But because your thyroid is so versatile, if it acts up, you could feel the effects in unpredictable ways. (Feel better starting today with Rodale’s The Thyroid Cure, a new book that’s helped thousands of people finally solve the mystery of what’s ailing them.)
“Especially in terms of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, it’s hard to make a diagnosis based on symptoms alone,” says Antonio Bianco, MD, PhD, a professor of internal medicine at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and president-elect of the American Thyroid Association (ATA).
“The best way for making a diagnosis is with a blood test,” Bianco adds. (More on that in a minute.)
While an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is often simpler to pin down, Bianco says most symptoms associated with a thyroid going haywire are also characteristic of other common health conditions—including depression, menopause, and chronic fatigue syndrome. “We say symptoms are ‘suggestive’ of over- or underactive thyroid, but laboratory confirmation is always needed,” he says.
Because symptoms vary, lots of people are living with thyroid issues without realizing it. The ATA estimates 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease—and 60% of them aren’t diagnosed. Also, women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid problems than men are, the ATA states.
Although no individual health issue is a sure sign of a thyroid condition, there are symptoms more commonly linked to an over- or underactive thyroid. Here are those symptoms—and what to do if you experience them. (In as little as 30 days, you can be a whole lot slimmer, way more energetic, and so much healthier just by following the simple, groundbreaking plan in The Thyroid Cure!)