These Symptoms Are Actually Serious Signs That You Need to Get Your Thyroid Checked

It’s easy to ignore your body. However, subtle health issues can signal bigger things. Both hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can have severe consequences if left untreated. Check your thyroid if your experience the following symptoms. One serious thyroid condition may be the culprit if you frequently feel cold (page 10).

1. You’re sad all the time and can’t shake it

Depressed young woman crying

Depression is a sign. | Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

In the past year, 16.2 million American adults have experienced a major depressive episode. They don’t all have thyroid issues, but it’s one of the first things doctors check. Why? If your thyroid is underactive, it can affect the amount of serotonin your brain produces, and you may feel noticeably depressed.

Next: Is the toilet your new best friend?

2. You’re at war with your digestive system

man sitting on the bad, clutching his stomach

Your thyroid plays a part in the digestive process. |

  • Sign of: both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism

Thyroid issues can affect your digestion in two ways, says Health, depending on whether you have an underactive or overactive gland. Frequent constipation is typical of an underactive thyroid since things can’t move through your system well. An overactive thyroid, however, can lead to more frequent bowel movements.

Next: The worst way to feel thin

3. Your hair is thinning, brittle, or dry

Hair loss

Do you have a thyroid condition or are you just getting old? | Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

  • Sign of: both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

Many doctors look at your hair when evaluating your thyroid. Thinning hair can be a sign of hypothyroidism, according to the Mayo Clinic, and noticeably brittle, fine hair can indicate hyperthyroidism. The former symptom occurs because your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones; the latter happens when your thyroid is affecting your circulation, which causes a lack of nourishment to your scalp and strands.

Next: Don’t blame the red meat.

4. Your cholesterol is high

Older man at doctor

Whether a heart or thyroid concern, check in with your doctor. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

Many thyroid problems can masquerade as cholesterol issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, an “elevated blood cholesterol level” can signal hyperthyroidism. So you may still be able to eat red meat, butter, dairy, and other full-fat foods (within reason); you’ll just need to keep your thyroid in check.

Next: Don’t necessarily blame sugar and sweets.

5. You’ve gained (or lost) weight

young healthy girl on home scales

Weight gain could be a sign. | Ensuria/Getty Images

  • Sign of: both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

Have you gained or lost weight without changing a thing? Either your scale is lying, or there’s something serious going on. According to the American Thyroid Association, in cases of hypothyroidism, weight gain occurs mostly due to salt and water retention. People with overactive thyroid glands, however, may experience unexpected weight loss. If you notice sudden weight changes as well as other symptoms, get your thyroid checked.

Next: Naptime feels like it should happen all the time.

6. You’re more exhausted than usual

Woman asleep on her laptop

Need a nap? Get your thyroid checked out. |

  • Sign of: both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism

Stress, chronic fatigue, and other mental health issues can leave you worn out and craving a nap. Exhaustion beyond a light coffee fix can also signal a thyroid problem. According to Verywell, you could experience fatigue with an overactive or underactive thyroid even if you regularly sleep well.

Next: Not related to a fear of rollercoasters or public speaking

7. Your hands tremble

Shaky hands

Do your hands shake while performing everyday tasks? |

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

Many people write off trembling hands as nervousness — or jump straight to Parkinson’s disease. But severely shaky hands can result from hyperthyroidism. “Severe” trembling is classified as having “difficulty writing or drawing” as well as “problems holding and controlling utensils,” explains The List.

Next: Counting sheep won’t remedy this symptom.

8. Your sleep schedule is off

Senior woman sleeping

Sleep problems are a sign. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid can keep you up at night. If you aren’t getting as much sleep as you used to, it could be a sign. Restless nights happen to everyone once in a while, but according to WebMD, with an overactive thyroid, you may have more energy than you know what to do with.

Next: No amount of lotion can help.

9. You have dry skin

Man using lotion

Dry skin is a sign something’s up. |

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

You’re using up bottles of lotion faster than you can buy them, yet your skin can’t seem to retain moisture. Your thyroid actually controls a lot of bodily processes, including skin health. Rough, dry skin could mean your thyroid is sluggish, explainsDermato-Endocrinology.

Next: Do you feel cold all the time?

10. You’re always cold

changing the temperature on a house thermostat

An underactive thyroid can cause you to feel cold. |

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

Wearing sweaters year-round could just be evidence of your office’s air conditioning. But if you constantly shiver wherever you go, your body could be telling you something. An inability to regulate your body temperature, according to Healthline, could be a sign of hypothyroidism. Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing metabolism-regulating hormones.

Next: Stop stressing over this symptom and get to the doctor.

11. You’re more anxious than usual

A woman with anxiety

Anxiety is also a sign. |

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

Anxiety and depression can go hand in hand. Rather than feeling depressed (which would be an underactive thyroid), you feel more hyperaware and worried with this condition. “Hyperthyroidism is more commonly associated with anxiety or panic attacks,” summarizes The Huffington Post. So cover all your bases when you visit your doctor.

Next: A sudden, scary voice change

12. You’re hoarse

Sore throat

Feeling hoarse for no reason is scary. | Tharakorn/Getty Images

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

Losing your voice is normal after a concert or sporting event, but persistent throat issues are concerning. According to EndocrineWeb, your thyroid may be kicking itself into high gear, which can cause inflammation and swelling in and around your throat. See your doctor for a proper examination.

Next: Life is pretty dull without these senses.

13. You have diminished senses of smell and taste

Man in a restaurant eating hamburger

If a flavorful burger doesn’t taste like much, it’s time to consult with your doctor. | Kzenon/Getty Images Plus

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

Many doctors aren’t aware of the thyroid’s effect on taste and smell. However, clinical trials found a connection with hypothyroidism. Using sniffing and taste strips, the trial found those with a hypothyroid condition scored much lower in taste and smell, especially with sweet and bitter flavors. After those patients were treated for their thyroid condition for three months, their smell and taste improved.

Next: Aging can’t explain this frustrating symptom.

14. Your joints are swollen or stiff

Man with knee pain

Knee pain may happen with an underactive thyroid. |

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

Have you noticed your joints are stiffer than they used to be? You may just be aging, but you could also have an underactive thyroid. According to Mayo Clinic, hypothyroidism can cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling similar to arthritis. If your shoulder or hips are sore, or if you notice swelling in your hands or feet, get your thyroid checked. A doctor can offer both short-term pain relief and long-term thyroid treatment.

Next: Did your heart sign up for a marathon?

15. Your heart rate won’t slow down

Pain in heart

A racing heart can indicate a couple health problems. | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

  • Sign of: hyperthyroidism

It’s normal for your heart to beat faster after exercising. However, a racing heart when you’re resting could be a thyroid issue. According to Harvard Health Publications, an elevated heart rate is a common side effect of an overactive thyroid.

Next: The last organ you expected to be fatigued

16. You have major brain fog

sad woman grasping her head

Your thyroid can impact your mood. |

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

Forgetfulness and a lack of focus are acceptable before your morning cup of coffee. After that, you may wonder why your brain still feels foggy. Hypothyroidism can cause issues with memory and concentration, says Everyday Health. Treatment for a thyroid disorder can leave you with a clearer head and a more productive schedule.

Next: Is the “pressure” getting to you?

17. Your blood pressure is higher than it used to be

nurse checks blood pressure

High blood pressure is a sign. | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

Both overactive and underactive thyroids can play a role in blood pressure. But an underactive thyroid is more serious. Hypothyroidism can slow the heartbeat, which affects the strength of the heart’s pumps and creates higher blood pressure.

Next: Infertility issues? Check your thyroid.

18. You’re having fertility issues

woman visiting her gynecologist

Your thyroid can impact your reproductive health. |

  • Sign of: hypothyroidism

If you’re having a hard time getting or staying pregnant, you could have an underlying thyroid disorder. Women to Women notes thyroid problems can lead to infertility. Sudden changes in your menstrual cycle could prevent pregnancy and hormone changes after conceiving could cause a miscarriage. Men can also experience fertility issues as a result of thyroid problems, according to research. Hypothyroidism can cause a drop in testosterone, which may impact your ability to conceive.

Christine Skopec also contributed to this article