If you are like most people, your thyroid gland goes unnoticed unless a problem arises. Our bodys organs often perform their responsibilities with little appreciation until their inability to do so affect our health. In the case of the thyroid, these problems are often chronic and leave people living a less-than-healthy life for years before triggering a serious health crisis. How do you know you are at risk for thyroid problems or you are experiencing a thyroid related disorder?

You notice your neck appears enlarged or you are experiencing neck discomfort. This can indicate the condition known as goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland. Obviously your neck can swell for a variety of reasons, ranging from dental issues to a temporary bout with flu, but an ongoing enlargement accompanied by other thyroid-related symptoms could indicate a thyroid-related problem.

You experience pain in your muscles and joints. Weakness in the arms, carpal tunnel, and plantar fasciitis are also an indication of thyroid problems.

You experience menstrual issues. Hypothyroidism often triggers heavy periods that are painful. Your cycle might also be unusual and you will bleed more frequently than usual. If you are suffering from hyperthyroidism, your periods may be lighter and shorter than usual.

You are experiencing unusual hair loss. You might also notice hair and skin changes, such as brittle, dry hair, or dry, scaly skin. Those suffering from hypothyroidism might also notice a loss of eyebrow hair.

You suffer from constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome.

You experience fatigue for no reason. People suffering from thyroid problems often find they are exhausted, even after plenty of sleep. Hyperthyroidism may also cause insomnia.

You experience unexplained weight fluctuations. Many people find that altering their exercise routines or eating habits causes no change in their weight if they are experiencing thyroid issues. Weight gain or loss that does not correspond with your actions is a sign of hyper- or hypothyroidism.

In addition to these symptoms, you may also be at risk for thyroid problems if someone in your family was affected. If nobody in your family has been diagnosed with hyper- or hypothyroidism ask if they have dealt with gout or glandular issues. Both of these are related to the thyroid. Elevated cholesterol levels may also be a sign of thyroid issues, especially if there are no changes when diet is improved.

Finally, your mental and emotional health may signal a thyroid problem. The National Thyroid Institute estimates that 50% of depression cases may be caused by thyroid issues. If you are suffering from depression or you notice a sudden spike in your anxiety level, it could be do to thyroid issues. Typically, anxiety and panic is a sign of hyperthyroidism, while depression is a sign of possible hypothyroidism.

There is a variety of diseases and conditions associated with the thyroid, and a number of things that can trigger thyroid problems. These include:

Toxic Adenomas
Graves Disease
Pituitary Gland Malfunctions
Sub-acute Thyroiditis
Thyroid Cancer
Hashimotos Disease
Exposure to Iodine
Exposure to Lithium
Removal of the Thyroid Gland

If you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to the thyroid or you have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, speak with your doctor about protecting your thyroid health.