Do you Have Neck Discomfort, Depression, Trouble Sleeping Well? Maybe it’s Your Thyroid

The thyroid gland is located at the base of the front of the neck in both males and females.   By Arnavaz at fr.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The thyroid gland is located at the base of the front of the neck in both males and females.
By Arnavaz at fr.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

Do tight shirts or necklaces bother the front of your neck?  Does it feel uncomfortable and “tight?”  It might be your thyroid.  The thyroid is an important gland in both males and females that is located at the lower part of the front of your neck.  Sometimes this gland becomes sensitive due to a medical problem.  If you find that this part of your body is uncomfortable to mild pressure, you should go in and have a conversation with your doctor.

If you or someone you know has had this problem, I don’t want you to worry.  Thyroid disorders are very common and usually very treatable.  It’s because they are so common that I wanted to write about them for you today.  I think that too many people don’t realize the signs of thyroid disease, so let’s change that!

There are many different types of thyroid disorders, today I will cover the most common conditions and discuss the most common symptoms.   Please note that not everyone with a thyroid problem will experience the same symptoms.  If you are interested in learning more, there are many other great sites that have additional information that you can read.

Do you feel tired, even though you spent hours in bed?  Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or trouble going to bed at night?  This can be due to your thyroid.  It can affect the quality of your sleep so that you spend many more hours in bed than you would normally need to in order to get enough sleep, leaving you exhausted or just tired, wondering why you are so tired when you spend so much time in bed?!  [This can also be due to other factors, which I will be discussing in an upcoming article on insomnia.]

Do you feel depressed, or just not excited about your day anymore?  This could be your thyroid.  The thyroid is a critical gland that supplies you with just the right amount of hormone to keep your metabolism balanced.  If you don’t get enough hormone (or if you get too much) you can be tired, depressed, and feel less interest in your life in general.  It can be a gradual process too, so you may not even notice the change in yourself.  It might have even started when you were young.

Have you gained some weight, even though you haven’t done anything differently? What about your sex drive, has it changed so that you are less interested in sex?  Have you noticed that your hair seems drier?  What about your skin and nails?  Do you have breast tenderness?  These are all signs of thyroid disorders as well.

Thyroid disorders run in families.  If one or both of your parents has a thyroid disorder, it’s even more likely that you are at risk of one as well.  Again, don’t worry, they are very treatable.  The key is to see the doctor and get checked out, then follow the treatment plan.

The most common type of thyroid disorder in the United States is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and it impacts millions of people.  In most cases it causes a person to have abnormally low thyroid hormone levels, this is called hypothyroidism.  Low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to the symptoms discussed above.  This particular disorder is a type of auto-immune disease where the body produces a protein that attacks the thyroid gland.  There is a specific blood test for this disease.  I recommend that if you or someone you know is having symptoms like neck discomfort over a period of time, depression, difficulty getting quality sleep and feeling rested and energetic, weight gain for no clear reason, that you get this particular test checked along with the regular thyroid hormone tests.  This test is called “anti-thyroid antibodies.”  The regular tests are called “TSH” and “T4,” and sometimes they will also check “T3.”

The reason I recommend this extra test is that the general thyroid tests can be normal, but if you are having symptoms, and that extra test is abnormal, you might benefit from treatment.  I don’t want to see patients not feeling their best.  If you get this test and it is abnormal, talk with your doctor about whether a trial of thyroid hormone replacement is possible.  They may or may not be comfortable doing that, depending on their personal experience and what the current research shows for that disease.  If they aren’t, you are always free to get other opinions.

I think it is worth trying the medication if someone has serious symptoms like those I mentioned above.  If it resolves the problems, that is great.  If it doesn’t, then maybe it isn’t going to be helpful.  The only way to find out is to try.

I have seen that someone can experience all of those symptoms including depression, neck discomfort, being overweight, sleep difficulties, and not have their thyroid disorder diagnosed for decades.  Once they are diagnosed and begin the medication, they can see an amazing change in themselves.  Why wait decades if this can be treated right away?

The treatment for low thyroid usually involves taking one small pill every day.  It doesn’t have any real side effects (except that it will usually treat the person’s problematic symptoms and they will feel better).  The treatment requires blood tests every so often to make sure that you are getting the right dose of medication, and regular doctor’s visits so they can check up on how you are doing.

Hopefully this information has been helpful to you.  I’d appreciate hearing back from you.  Please feel free to share the link to this article with others, I hope to reach as many people as possible so that they can be helped.

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Please contact a physician if you have any concerns.  The above information may or may not apply to you and your personal situation, and should not be taken as personal medical advice.

 

 

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