When your thyroid isn’t working properly, it can cause a lot of problems. It’s important to understand what your thyroid does and to be aware of signs that can signal a health issue.
The thyroid is a small gland located near the base of your neck. Its primary job is to produce the hormones that control many bodily functions, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats.
If your thyroid produces too many hormones, your metabolism quickens. This problem, called hyperthyroidism, can cause symptoms like anxiety and irritability, weight loss and a rapid heart beat. You may have muscle weakness or trembling in your hands or fingers.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. You might feel tired or sluggish and even depressed. You might experience weight gain, muscle weakness and possibly constipation.
In either case, symptoms can develop slowly, sometimes over years. At first, you may not even notice or know you have a problem. And when symptoms do start, it’s easy to mistake them for other health problems.
So if you’re just not feeling like yourself, talk to your doctor. It could be your thyroid. A simple blood test might be all you need to know for sure. And the right treatment could be as simple as taking a daily pill when you wake up in the morning.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has answers to many questions about thyroid issues.