Hormones play an important role in the way your body works. As part of your endocrine system, they're the chemical messengers in your blood that control many of your body's most important functions—from how much you poop and pee to how fast your hair grows.
While we've all experienced the hormonal swings that come with common occurrences like PMS (or stress), conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, and even pregnancy can really wreak havoc, causing symptoms that'll make you wonder what's going on with your bod. Here's what you should look out for.
If Your Hormones Are Out of Whack Because of... Thyroid Disease
1. You poo a lot more (or less).
If you notice you're suddenly constipated or you're pooing all the time, it could be related to either hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormones) or hyperthyroidism (too much). "This isn't, 'I've always been constipated since I was 15,'" says endocrinologist Kathleen Figaro. "It's more, 'I was doing quite well, and all of a sudden I'm constipated.'" That's because your thyroid hormones can make your organs operate more quickly (hyperthyroidism) or more slowly (hypothyroidism) when they get screwy.
2. Your eyes look bigger.
If anyone ever tells you that your eyes look bigger or that it looks like you're staring (like, all the time), it may be a sign of the most common form of hyperthyroidism, the autoimmune disorder Graves disease, says Figaro. Your eyes appear larger because your eyelids are elevated, since tissues behind the eye are inflamed.
3. Your hair stops growing.
If your hair feels coarser or you have less of it anywhere on your body—including your head—it could be a sign of hypothyroidism, since thyroid hormones are in charge of hair growth, says Figaro.
4. You forget things.
While brain fog is a well-known symptom of hypothyroidism, poor short-term memory can also be a warning sign. Why? Low thyroid hormone levels control the brain's metabolism—and slower brain function affects your ability to pay attention in the moment and make memories, says Figaro.
5. Your skin is dry.
Flaky, dry skin can also be a sign of hypothyroidism, says Figaro. When you're producing less thyroid hormone, it slows down your skin's metabolism, too—which means it produces less of the oils that keep you moist.
Find out more about your thyroid at thyroidfoundation.org.au