Guide to Your Thyroid Checklist

Have unexplained belly fat and feel stressed or foggy? Though small, your thyroid may be causing some big problems.

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If you're feeling fatigued, foggy and fat and you can't figure out why, you may have a hidden hormone problem. The thyroid, a small gland in your neck, helps your body balance hormone production and is largely responsible for regulating your metabolism. Even if your doctor says your numbers are in the "normal" range, a slightly sluggish thyroid could still leave you feeling lethargic. Review this checklist to see if your thyroid could be the cause of your problems.

Weight Gain: Still packing on pounds even though you've been eating well and exercising? Because the thyroid controls metabolism, weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of low thyroid function. If you've gained 10 or more pounds over three months without an obvious explanation, consider getting your thyroid function checked.

Brain Fog: If you feel like you're walking around in a haze, your thyroid could be to blame. Feeling unusually forgetful and confused, and having trouble concentrating, are also symptoms of a slow thyroid. We all feel this way now and then (especially if we aren't getting enough sleep), but if you feel this way consistently for three months or more, talk to your doctor.

Fatigue: Do you consistently feel like you have half the energy you normally should? Feeling tired or just plain exhausted all the time is another sign of a hormone problem.

Constipation:
Don't be embarrassed to admit that you have this uncomfortable symptom. Note how often you have a bowel movement and its texture. If you have bowel movements substantially less often than once every one to two days, if your stool is hard, dry, pebble-like or requires straining to pass, you could be constipated – which is yet another symptom of low thyroid hormone.

Cold: Feeling cold all the time could point to a thyroid problem. Try checking your body temperature with an axillary thermometer (one that goes under the armpit) for a week right before you get out of bed. If your temperature is under 98° F for at least five days, consider getting your thyroid checked.