If This Happens When You Eat or Drink, You Need Your Thyroid Checked

Experts say this occurrence may indicate that a larger issue is at play with your thyroid.

Your thyroid plays a vital part in your metabolism, along with regulating multiple bodily functions. When things go wrong with your thyroid, many different parts of your body can face the consequences. But it can be hard to tell when something is amiss with your thyroid in particular—which is why you'll want to pay attention to one tell-tale sign of trouble. According to experts, if you notice a certain, recurring issue happening when you eat or drink, you should get your thyroid checked. Read on to find out what you should be looking out for, and for more warning signs, If You Notice This on Your Nails, Get Your Thyroid Checked, Doctors Say.

If you find it difficult to swallow when eating or drinking, you should get your thyroid checked.

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If you find yourself having trouble swallowing when trying to eat or drink, you could be facing a thyroid problem. Difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia, may make it hard for food or fluid to go down, says David Beatty, MRCGP, a general practitioner with more than 30 years of experience. "If someone is having difficulty swallowing, they may find food or fluid is slow to go down, they may get regurgitation into the mouth, or they may get partial reflux with cough and choking if food or fluid begins to 'go down the wrong way,'" Beatty explains. And for more drinking concerns, If You're Drinking This Bottled Water, Your Liver May Be in Danger, FDA Says.

Difficulty swallowing is associated with several different thyroid issues.

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According to the experts at Fort Worth ENT, various thyroid disorders can cause your thyroid gland—which is usually about the size of a quarter—to become enlarged and compress swallowing organs. Inna Husain, MD, the section head of the Laryngology Department at Rush University Medical Center, says that when this gland becomes enlarged, it compresses an airway it sits in front of called the trachea. And the trachea sits in front of the esophagus—the tube that delivers food and liquid to the stomach—which then also becomes compressed. All of this makes it harder to swallow, Husain says.

The thyroid conditions that can cause difficulty swallowing include Graves' disease, thyroiditis, Hashimoto's disease, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism, per Fort Worth ENT. Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism are conditions caused by the overproduction of thyroid hormones, while thyroiditis involves swelling or inflammation of the thyroid. Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones, as is Hashimoto's disease, which occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing damage and swelling that limits the thyroid's ability to produce hormones. And for more symptoms to pay attention to, check out these 20 Subtle Signs of a Thyroid Problem Hiding in Plain Sight.

Difficulty swallowing can also be a symptom of thyroid cancer.

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Unfortunately, difficulty swallowing can also be a symptom of thyroid cancer, according to Beatty. But "dysphagia is more likely to be a late symptom of the disease rather than an early symptom," he adds. The presenting symptoms of thyroid cancer will more likely appear as a solitary nodule or swelling in the neck around the thyroid gland. Other symptoms you could experience as thyroid cancer progresses include a cough, hoarseness, and pain in the throat and neck, per Healthline. And for more useful health information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter

Other notable symptoms of thyroid problems include weight change and cold or heat sensitivity.

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According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, "when your thyroid doesn't work properly, it can impact your entire body." Therefore, there are multiple signs and symptoms that could indicate something is wrong with your thyroid. Per the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of thyroid problems can be divided into two groups: signs of having too much thyroid hormone and signs of having too little thyroid hormone. If your thyroid is producing too much of this hormone, you may experience anxiety, irritability, nervousness, trouble sleeping, weight loss, irregular menstrual periods, sensitivity to heat, muscle weakness, tremors, and vision problems. On the other hand, if your thyroid is producing too little of this hormone, you could experience fatigue, weight gain, forgetfulness, frequent and heavy menstrual periods, dry and coarse hair, hoarseness in relation to your voice, and an intolerance to cold temperatures. And for more ways to monitor your health, If You Can't Do This in 90 Seconds, Your Heart Is in Danger, Study Says.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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