(KCBD) - January is Thyroid Awareness Month but thyroid cancer is the least common in a very long list of medical issues that can be blamed on an unhappy thyroid.
Even though most of us are quick to think significant weight loss or weight gain points to a thyroid issue, Dr. Shaili Felton, an Endocrinologist at Covenant, says that's also not as common.
She says, "I would say probably in the minority of cases. However, if you are having weight gain or weight loss for unexplained reasons, it's always best to talk to your doctor because this is something we can screen for and treat if need be."
Dr. Felton says thyroid trouble comes when its hormone levels are either produced too much or too little.
She explains, "If the thyroid is overproducing, people can be anxious, irritable, weight loss, (losing muscle rather than fat). It can cause you to be shaky, jittery, heart to beat faster, cause diarrhea, feel more hot than cold, just to name a few."
If someone already has a tendency to be anxious or depressed, an overactive thyroid can make those feelings worse.
On the flip-side, she says trouble comes when the thyroid is not producing enough hormone. In that case, she says you can see a lot of weight gain fatigue, constipation, and feel sluggish and more cold.
Dr. Felton says it might be easy to ignore these symptoms because they are often vague. But, especially in the case of the overactive thyroid, treatment is important because the condition can lead to more serious conditions like an irregular heartbeat.
The take home message, she says, is that if you just don't feel right, that's reason enough to tell your doctor. If the problem is as simple as a thyroid that is not working properly, the situation is easy to fix to get you back to your normal self.