The smelly sign that may signal an under-active thyroid

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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits above the collarbones and regulates the production of the right hormones. Its role is central to several core body functions, including the heartbeat, breathing and metabolism. When its functioning becomes impaired, the nervous system can suffer, causing changes in a person’s perception of smell.

Several of the bodily changes associated with poor thyroid health occur in the nasal cavity.

JAMA Network has previously stated: “The connection between the thyroid gland and the nasal cavity is real and not merely fortuitous.

“[It] has been confirmed on a number of occasions by various investigators,” states the report.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people with a diseased thyroid may notice physical changes to the appearance of their nose, which may broaden.

Endocrineweb adds: “A lack of thyroid hormones because of hypothyroidism leads to inflammation and trapped fluid in the mucous glands, causing them to swell.”

There is evidence that the body may also produce more connective tissue – known as cartilage – inside the nasal cavity.

Aside from changes to the structure of the nose, a person’s sense of smell has been known to become affected.

Early research in the American Journal of Medicine, states that “smell defects are common clinical abnormalities in primary hypothyroidism, as suggest that these defects may contribute to […] a lack of eating which [is] frequently observed”.

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It is understood that the condition may significantly influence smell perception, attenuating or even suppressing it completely.

The onset of these neurological symptoms is to be linked to damage to the nervous system.

The BioMed Research International journal suggests that the fluid retention caused by hypothyroidism may do this by exerting pressure on the peripheral nerves.

Peripheral neuropathy may ensue, which is one of the most probable causes of olfactory dysfunction.

READ MORE: Hypothyroidism: Five warning signs in your nails

“In the worst cases, it can progress to a comatose state – obviously something to be avoided at all costs.”

Rory Batt, MSc personalised Nutrition, explained: “It’s quite hard to tell that it’s hypothyroidism in particular that’s behind some of these symptoms until it’s confirmed with functional testing.

“Tests available from the NHS are not very descriptive and do not give the whole picture.”

The expert explained that the most notable symptoms associated with hypothyroidism are fatigue, brain fog, poor memory and concentration.

Correcting any thyroid imbalances is critical, as a chronic shortfall in thyroid hormone can have dire consequences.

Doctor Claire Thomas, clinical content lead at wellness app Evergreen life, explained that in the end stages of the disease, a person may suffer from myxoedema.

She said: “Another symptom of a more advanced case of hypothyroidism is called myxoedema, causing your face to become puffy and swollen.

“Myxoedema is considered severe, and so any sign of it with these other symptoms is an indication to take a trip to the doctor as soon as possible.

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