Hypothyroidism SymptomsIf you have hypothyroidism it will affect all of your body's organs and functions. This can cause you to suffer both mental and physical symptoms. On this page you can find out information about hypothyroidism symptoms including the early and advanced symptoms in both adults and children.
Early Hypothyroidism SymptomsBecause the early symptoms of hypothyroidism are subtle they might go unnoticed or be mistaken for aging or stress. The symptoms of early hypothyroidism include:
- Concentration problems
- Cold sensitivity
- Muscle aches/pain
- Joint aches
- Weight gain which is unexplained
- Dry, rough skin
- Itchy skin
- Slow heart rate - less than 60 beats per minute
- Water retention
- Sweating less
- Thin, brittle fingernails or hair
Later Hypothyroidism SymptomsIf you let hypothyroidism go untreated it can cause advanced symptoms including:
- Eyebrows thinning
- Weight gain continues even though reduced appetite, can result in obesity
- Hearing loss
- Hoarse voice
- Husky voice
- Breaking voice
- Deeper voice from Reinke's edema
- Slow speech
- Lowered body temperature
- Heart failure
- Puffy/thickened skin
- Pale skin
- Puffy face around the eyes
- Puffy hands or feet
- Impaired sense of taste and smell
- Enlarged heart
- Fluid build up around lungs
- Coarse hair
- Hair loss
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Extreme Hypothyroidism SymptomsHypothyroidism that is in very advanced stages is called myxedema. People with myxedema need to be hospitalized and given immediate treatment through an injection of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of myxedema include:
- Low blood pressure
- Breathing decrease
- Decreased body temperature
Hypothyroidism Symptoms in WomenWomen who have hypothyroidism can have any of the symptoms listed above as well as the following symptoms specific to women:
- Menstrual irregularities
Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Pregnant WomenSome of the most common symptoms caused by having hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy are:
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Weight loss
There is more information about having hypothyroidism while pregnant at the Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy page.
Subclinical Hypothyroidism SymptomsSubclinical hypothyroidism is a mild form of hypothyroidism where thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels are elevated but thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are at normal levels. If you have subclinical hypothyroidism you will have either no symptoms or only vague symptoms. Often the vague symptoms from subclinical hypothyroidism can be mistaken for symptoms of aging such as worsening memory, tiredness and dry skin.
GoiterIf your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormone, your pituitary gland may create more thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This is to try to stimulate your thyroid to produce more hormone. However the increased level of TSH can eventually make your thyroid enlarge because of overstimulation and lead to a goiter.
Differing Hypothyroidism SymptomsIf you have hypothyroidism you can have a combination of any number of the above symptoms. From person to person the symptoms will often vary widely and will depend on things such as how long you've had hypothyroidism and how deficient your body is of thyroid hormone.
Factors Affecting the Severity of Hypothyroidism SymptomsThe symptoms of hypothyroidism are often more severe for older people. Other factors that affect how bad your hypothyroidism is are how long you've had the condition for, and how great your thyroid hormone deficiency is.
Progression of Hypothyroidism SymptomsThe symptoms of hypothyroidism usually appear gradually, often over a number of years. At first they might be hardly noticeable, or mistaken for aging, stress or other things. As your metabolism slows down they will become more and more noticeable though. If they are not treated they will usually get worse and eventually become severe. You can end up with problems such as goiter, mental impairment, severe depression, heart failure and even coma.
Mistaking the Symptoms of HypothyroidismThe symptoms of hypothyroidism are not specific to only hypothyroidism, so they are often mistaken for other conditions. This is one reason why there are many people with hypothyroidism who don't realize it.
Hypothyroidism symptoms such as tiredness are often dismissed as being caused by aging. If the person is older, then the mental effects of hypothyroidism, such as memory loss, can be mistaken for problems such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Emotional symptoms and others are often mistaken for depression, especially during and after pregnancy.
Causes of Hypothyroidism SymptomsMost of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are caused by your body's metabolism slowing down. Too little thyroid hormone causes your metabolic rate to decrease which can lead to symptoms such as sensitivity to the cold because of your body generating less warmth. Also your organs won't be stimulated enough, resulting in symptoms such as decreased heart rate, tiredness and problems with memory and thinking.
Seeing a DoctorIf you have a number of the symptoms listed on this page and you don't know the cause then you should talk to your doctor. He should be able to test if you have hypothyroidism. See Hypothyroidism Diagnosing and Testing for more information.
If you are already on treatment for hypothyroidism but you are still suffering from hypothyroidism symptoms then you should also talk to your doctor. Sometimes there can be lingering symptoms even when you are on synthetic T4 treatment. But you should talk to your doctor to find out if you need to change the treatment you are on, or the dosage. See Hypothyroidism Treatment for more information.
Hypothyroidism Symptoms in Children and Congenital SymptomsAlthough hypothyroidism usually affects middle aged women, infants and children can also suffer hypothyroidism. Most children born with congenital hypothyroidism, either from being born with no thyroid gland or a defective thyroid gland, will have no obvious symptoms at first. Generally when the symptoms do appear they will be the same as in adults but they can also have:
- Jaundice (yellowish skin and whites of eyes)
- Noisy breathing
- Enlarged, protruding tongue.
- Feeding problems
- Failure to thrive
- A puffy face
Later symptoms of hypothyroidism in infants and children include:
- Protruding abdomens
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- Delayed teething.
- Yellow raised bumps (called xanthomas) may appear under the skin, the result of cholesterol build-up
- Trouble feeding
- If goiter is developing they can have poor appetite and choking
If their hypothyroidism is left untreated children can even end up with physical and mental retardation. Symptoms include:
- Poor growth therefore extremely short for their age
- Puffy, bloated appearance
- Below-normal intelligence
- Delayed development of permanent teeth
- Delayed puberty
- Poor mental development
- Young looking compared to their age
- Weight gain despite slow growing
In the USA all new born babies are now screened for hypothyroidism. Older children who have hypothyroidism can suffer behavior problems and problems with school performance. If your child has abnormally slow growth or slow development you should have him or her tested for hypothyroidism.