Signs of a Sluggish Thyroid

The thyroid is a large, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that regulates hormones and metabolism. An underactive thyroid--a common condition known as hypothyroidism--produces insufficient levels of necessary hormones. Signs of a sluggish thyroid can vary greatly depending on the severity of the thyroid deficiency, and include weight gain, fatigue and depression. Since all of these are signs of other common health problems, it's important to undergo a blood test to determine whether or not your thyroid is functioning properly.

  1. Fatigue

    • Feeling tired and sluggish even when you've gotten plenty of sleep may be a sign of hypothyroidism. A slow thyroid can make you feel lethargic or achy, regardless of whether or not you've undergone any strenuous activity. When the thyroid is slow, the body and all its muscles also operate at a slower pace, making for a lower overall energy supply and causing you to move more slowly or tire easily.

    Weight Gain

    • Gaining weight for no apparent reason is another common sign of a slow thyroid. The more severe the case of hypothyroidism, the more weight a person is likely to gain. However, in most cases, the weight gain associated with a sluggish thyroid totals no more than 5 to 10 pounds and is due to excessive water and salt retention rather than extra fat stores. When the thyroid is underactive, it sends out fewer regulatory hormones than it normally would, slowing the metabolism and facilitating weight gain.

    Feeling Cold

    • Patients with an underactive thyroid frequently report feeling cold, especially in the extremities. Constantly having cold hands or feet regardless of the surrounding temperature is a common sign of hypothyroidism. Slow thyroid activity means that you have less blood flowing to various parts of the body, a mechanism which would normally help protect against cold. (This can also result in pale skin.) If you find that your skin is often cold when everyone else feels comfortable, or you frequently get the chills without accompanying cold and flu symtoms, you should consult a physician about the possibility of a thyroid problem.


    • The change in hormone levels caused by an underactive thyroid can lead to symptoms of depression. Since hormone levels can be factors in depression, this mental illness is a fairly common sign of a sluggish thyroid. Those experiencing thyroid-related depression may experience trouble sleeping, frequent mood swings and difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms. At the same time, many of these and other typical symptoms of depression may indicate depression unrelated to the thyroid.

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