Often times, when we sense something’s with our bodies, we just brush it off and assume it’s no big deal. “It’s just a cold,” we say. Or, “I’m just being moody.” While our assumptions are sometimes true, other times what seems like something innocent may be a sign of a more serious health problem. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the cues your body is giving you, such as when it comes to your thyroid.

The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that plays a vital role in almost every area of the body. Part of the endocrine system, the thyroid produces the thyroid hormone (TH), which controls your metabolism and affects your heart, brain muscles, and other parts of the body. When you thyroid is producing too many or too few hormones, your body’s basic functions, such as sleep, weight, appetite, and mood, can be thrown off.

According to the American Thyroid Association, approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60% of patients are unaware of their condition. Thyroid issues affect more women than men; women are up to eight times more likely to have a thyroid problem.

Here are some common signs of thyroid conditions that are often overlooked.

You Feel Tired Even After Getting a Full Night’s Sleep

While tiredness, sluggishness and exhaustion can be associated with a number of different health concerns, it’s among the most common symptoms of thyroid conditions. If you often feel exhausted even after getting a full night of sleep, then you may suffer from hypothyroidism— an underactive thyroid. Your body feels sluggish due to the underproduction of the TH and a slower metabolism.

You’re Gaining or Losing Weight for No Apparent Reason

Unexplained weight gain or loss is another common sign of thyroid issues. Perhaps you’re gaining weight even though you’re eating less and exercising. Weight gain is a red flag for an underactive thyroid, as your body lacks sufficient levels of TH, resulting in a slower metabolism. With a slower metabolism, you’re burning less energy and therefore gaining weight.

On the flip side, hyperthyroidism— an overactive thyroid— can lead to unexplained weight loss. If you have an overactive thyroid, your body is producing too much TH, so you have an increased metabolism and your body is burning too much energy.

You Feel Sad or Depressed

If you suffer from anxiety, depression or mood swings, then your thyroid may be at the root of the problem. Having too little or too much thyroid hormones can affect the feel-good chemical in the brain, serotonin. It’s common for people with an overactive thyroid to feel anxious, restless or irritable, while those with too little TH may feel down or depressed.

You Have Dry Skin & Brittle Hair and Nails

Have you noticed changes to your skin, hair and nail texture or appearance? Dry, flakey skin, brittle nails and hair, and hair loss are all associated with an underactive thyroid. Hair loss may also be linked to an overactive thyroid, along with oilier skin or hair. These symptoms can arise after your thyroid has been functioning improperly for some time.

Your Period is Irregular

A malfunctioning thyroid can disrupt your menstrual cycle. If your cycle is regular and starts to occur more frequently and lighter, then you may have an overactive thyroid. A heavier, less frequent period is a sign of an underactive thyroid. Disruptions to a regular menstrual cycle may increase the risk of infertility.

These are some common symptoms of a thyroid condition. To ensure your thyroid is healthy, talk to your doctor about running a thyroid test.

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