Special Report

The Most Common Warning Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right

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Very tired throughout the day

If people need a lot of coffee throughout the day, they may have an underlying hormonal issue caused by a dysfunctional thyroid gland. A major sign that the tiny but powerful butterfly-like gland at the base of the neck doesn’t produce enough of the hormones that control how the body uses energy is chronic fatigue.

And what do most people do when they feel tired but it’s not bedtime yet? They drink coffee. Alas, caffeine, although a stimulant, inhibits thyroid function, according to internal medicine specialist and medical director of the Ash Center Comprehensive Medicine in New York, Alyson Pidich.

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Feeling cold all the time

Thyroid problems can confuse your internal thermostat. An underactive thyroid could result in feeling chills all the time because you have less energy available for the body to keep warm. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid puts energy-producing cells into overdrive, making you sweat.

The thyroid produces hormones that regulate thermogenesis, also called heat production, acting both in peripheral and central organs. They influence how much blood vessels dilate, affecting how much heat leaves the body.

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Heavy sweating

Excessive sweating can be the result of many issues, including excess weight and stress. But it could also mean thyroid problems. People with a thyroid condition may sweat excessively because the body is producing too much thyroxine, a hormone the thyroid gland secretes into the bloodstream. The hormone imbalance speeds up the metabolism, resulting in a higher body temperature.

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Brittle nail

Changes in fingernails are often related to diet, but brittle nails can also indicate thyroid disease. As body functions slow down due to a decrease in thyroid hormones, nails grow slower, causing them to change their overall shape. Also, because the body produces less sweat when the thyroid gland is underactive, the nails — as well as hair and skin — tend to be drier.

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Anxiety

Your thyroid may be producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism). When the thyroid is overactive, a person may feel nervousness and have rapid heartbeat and hand tremors, among other symptoms.