Monday, 13 July 2015

Signs My Thyroid is Off

"A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses".

My thyroid is a tricky little thing. It’s infiltrated with an autoimmune disease, which means that my own body doesn’t really like it anymore. It attacks it, sometimes more than others.

Sometimes I need more replacement thyroid hormones, and sometimes I need less. It’s a complicated process, because it very much depends how much sleep I got the night before, how much I eat, how much exercise I do, how cold it is, and so on and so forth.

Our bodies are intensely complex and trying to replicate my thyroid by hand is an ongoing, and almost impossible, task.

To complicated matters further, the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood can take up to six weeks to reflect the changes in my body. This works fine, if I need a larger or smaller dose on an ongoing basis, but it doesn’t help at all if I’ve just worked out too hard at the gym and my body needs a bit of an additional dose.

If I’m fighting a bug, I generally need a touch more, but then I tend to exercise and be up and about less, necessitating a reduction. It’s a bit of guess work, and I don’t always get it right.

Over time I began to learn that my body responds a certain ways when my dose isn’t quite right. I haven’t quite learned which symptoms appear when I need an increase, and which when I need a reduction, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to spot them in time.

Here are the signs I look out for to give me a clue that my thyroid isn’t functioning quite as it should be:


Shattered, but I can’t sleep. That’s usually the most obvious sign that something is wrong. The rest of the signs are more subtle, but they are usually there by the time the insomnia shows up.

It’s pretty simple for me to spot this one, once I’ve had more than one night where I lie awake for hours. Funnily enough, this is more often a sign I need more thyroid hormones, rather than less.

Sweet Cravings:
I am definitely a hormonal eater. Whenever my hormones fluctuate, whether that’s from my monthly cycles, being pregnant, or my thyroid hormones being out of sync, the cravings for sweet treats appear.

Not just the sugar, but for sugar loaded carbs. This is particularly bad because it usually means I end up eating gluten, and then I’ve got that to contend with too. If I’ve been craving sweet things more than normal for more than a week or so, it tends to be a red flag for me that something is off.

Brain Fog:

This one sounds ridiculous, but it really does happen when you have a thyroid problem. Your brain feels like it’s been stuffed with cotton wool, leaving no room for anything. It is quite literally mind numbing, and I lose all track of where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing. Simple, everyday tasks take forever, and I struggle to multi task.

Unfortunately the brain fog means it takes forever for me to process what is happening to me, and when it eventually does click, I feel like an idiot.


It’s not quite like being tired. It’s not like I yawn and need a bit more sleep. I become lethargic. Everything becomes a huge effort and I just usually want to sit on the sofa and do nothing. I can’t concentrate on anything and I usually give up reading anything longer than one sentence.

Weight Gain:

I gain weight whether my thyroid is under active or over active. If I’m overactive, I just get more hungry and so I just eat more. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s a pain in the backside to have to have to try to lose the weight, yet again.

Extreme hunger:

I wake up in the morning and I’m absolutely ravenous, even if I ate my own body weight in calories the day before.

As you can  see, most of these symptoms are fairly common for al sorts of other problems, and it can take a while before I realise that there is actually a problem that needs to be resolved. There are so many symptoms of thyroid problems, and your signs and symptoms may be a little different to my own. A full list of symptoms for thyroid imbalances can be found here [link to STTM].