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Here are 7 common symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid.

Your thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck that plays a large role in many bodily functions. Its main role is to produce thyroid hormone, which impacts everything from your metabolism to your mood. When your thyroid is not working properly, two things can happen – either you produce too much thyroid hormone (known as hyperthyroidism) or you don’t produce enough thyroid hormone (known as hypothyroidism).

Whether overactive or underactive, you may notice a number of symptoms that can clue you into the fact that you have a problem with your thyroid. Not everyone has the same symptoms, however, and those with mild cases of thyroid disease may experience no symptoms at all. But if you suspect that your thyroid is not working properly, talk to your doctor.

Consider getting your thyroid checked if you have these symptoms:

  • Your weight unexpectedly changes. If you have lost or gained a significant amount of weight without changing your diet or exercise habits, it could be related to your thyroid. If your thyroid is overactive, excess thyroid hormone speeds up your metabolism and results in unexpected weight loss. If your thyroid is underactive, your thyroid doesn’t produce enough of this hormone, causing your metabolism to slow down. This may result in unintended weight gain.
  • You feel tired or weak. Whether your thyroid is underactive or overactive, you may notice that you feel tired and weak. If overactive, you may find it hard to fall asleep at night, leaving you feeling unrested. Without enough thyroid hormone, you may feel completely zapped of energy. With both conditions, you may also experience muscle weakness.
  • You feel too hot or too cold. Thyroid problems can also wreak havoc on your sensitivity to temperature. People with hyperthyroidism often feel hot and sweat excessively, while the opposite is true of people with hypothyroidism – they tend to feel cold and find it hard to warm up.
  • You notice swelling and inflammation in your body. If your thyroid is not functioning optimally, you may have inflammation in your joints or may notice it in other places. For example, you may see swelling at the base of your neck or your face may look and feel puffy.
  • Your skin or hair looks different. Thyroid issues may affect your skin or hair. Your skin may be dry, itchy, irritated or red. You may also notice that your hair is weaker, more brittle or thinning.
  • There’s a change in your mental well-being. An overactive thyroid may cause you to feel anxious, nervous or irritable. Conversely, if you don’t produce enough thyroid hormone, you may feel depressed.
  • You’re having issues with your period or fertility. Thyroid issues may cause women to miss periods, resulting in fertility issues. Those who don’t produce enough thyroid hormone may also have a greater risk of miscarriage or preeclampsia.

Symptoms of a thyroid condition may be attributed to many other causes, but if you suspect that an overactive or underactive thyroid may be to blame, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can diagnose the condition so you’ll know if your thyroid is what is causing your symptoms.


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Date Last Reviewed: November 20, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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