The thyroid helps with several functions within the body. Thyroid issues can cause various symptoms that a person may not associate with the thyroid, such as mood and skin changes.

The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck. It helps to regulate many of the body’s systems. When it is not working properly, the thyroid can negatively affect several different areas of the body.

Many symptoms of thyroid issues can come on slowly over several months or years, and a person may not immediately associate these with the thyroid.

This article explores the thyroid in more detail. It also reviews some lesser-known signs of thyroid issues, common symptoms a person may experience, and when to contact a doctor.

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The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of a person’s neck. It produces vital hormones used throughout the body. Some areas it regulates include:

The thyroid can produce too many or too few hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Often, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism occur due to an underlying reason, such as:

When thyroid problems occur, they can cause a variety of symptoms and complications. The symptoms are often nonspecific, meaning they may be due to any number of underlying health conditions.

The thyroid can cause several well-known issues, such as unexplained weight gain or loss, sensitivity to cold temperatures, and fatigue. However, even these relatively common thyroid symptoms can occur due to various underlying conditions, not specifically due to issues with the thyroid.

The following examples are some other signs a person may experience due to an issue with their thyroid.

Mood changes

Changes to the thyroid may affect a person’s mood.

Hyperthyroidism can cause a person to experience irritability and nervousness. Hypothyroidism can lead to feelings of depression. Both may cause a person to experience fatigue.

Puffiness or swelling

People may experience swelling in different areas of the body. A person’s face may appear puffy, particularly on the lips, tongue, and eyelids, as a result of thyroid disease.

Changes to skin

Issues with the thyroid can cause changes to a person’s skin. This can include symptoms such as:

  • rashes appearing around the creases in a person’s skin
  • discoloration of the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • development of painless lumps that may feel hard or waxy
  • reddish spots that appear and disappear
  • deep lines that appear on the hands or feet
  • slow healing wounds
  • itchy skin
  • pale, dry skin
  • moist or velvety skin, similar to a baby’s
  • flushing of the face or palms
  • yellow or orange color on the soles and palms

Changes to the nails

The thyroid can cause changes in the appearance and health of a person’s fingernails and toenails. These may include:

  • changes in nail appearance, such as ridges and shininess
  • changes to texture, including nails becoming brittle, easy to break, crumbly, and lifting from the bed
  • nails may grow more quickly or more slowly

Changes to hair

A person’s hair can change due to issues with the thyroid. Hair may grow faster or slower. It may become coarse and brittle and break more easily.

In addition, a person may notice issues such as:

The exact symptoms and severity of thyroid issues can vary between people. A person may experience one or more symptoms. In some cases, an individual may not experience any symptoms at all or may only notice them after several months or years of having a thyroid condition.

People’s symptoms also vary based on the underlying cause of their thyroid issues.

Hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms that include:

Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms that include:

A person should consider speaking with a healthcare professional if they experience symptoms that start to interfere with their daily lives, do not go away, or do not have an obvious cause.

While an issue with the thyroid gland may be the reason, a doctor can help rule out additional potential causes of a person’s symptoms.

If a doctor suspects a person has an issue with their thyroid, they will likely order blood tests. These can check a person’s hormone levels and the presence of certain antibodies that could indicate an autoimmune disorder. They may also recommend imaging tests to examine the thyroid gland itself.

Issues with the thyroid gland can affect people differently. They can cause symptoms in several parts of a person’s body, including the hair, nails, skin, and internal processes.

A person experiencing unusual symptoms should contact a healthcare professional to determine their cause. If a doctor suspects thyroid issues, they may order one or more tests to help confirm the diagnosis.