Symptoms of Hypothyroidism can occur in any part of the body. Why? Because thyroid hormone affects each and every organ. For this reason, there is a long list of signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Low body temperature. Intolerance to cold temperature.
- Enlargement of the tongue, sleep apnea, hoarse and husky voice.
- Constipation due to decreased intestinal movement. Sometimes, it can lead to gaseous distention of the intestines, called myxedema ileus. In extreme cases, fecal impaction can develop.
Muscle Symptoms in Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroid patients often experience muscle cramps and weakness, known as Hypothyroid Myopathy. As a result, stiff muscles can slow down your tendon reflexes (done by your physician), especially in the relaxation phase. Hence the term “hung-up reflexes,” that most physicians are familiar with. Moreover, there is an elevation in the blood test for muscle enzymes, CK (Creatine Kinase.)
There is a rare form of Hypothyroid Myopathy, known as Hoffman’s Syndrome. It affects proximal muscles of the legs. Hence, getting up from a sitting position becomes difficult.
What causes Hypothyroid Myopathy?
Hypothyroid Myopathy happens if hypothyroidism is not diagnosed and treated properly.
How To Diagnose and Treat Hypothyroid Myopathy?
There is a marked elevation in the blood CK (Creatine Kinase) level.1
This blood test, along with an overall clinical picture, can help an endocrinologist make the diagnosis of Hypothyroid Myopathy. Proper thyroid hormone replacement promptly restores muscle strength in these patients.2
Therefore, you have a good prognosis for your Hypothyroid Myopathy, but only if you get yourself under the treatment of a competent endocrinologist.
Skin Symptoms of Low Thyroid
- Skin becomes puffy, cool, and dry. There is puffiness around the eyes, coarse facial features, swelling of hands, feet and supra-clavicular fossae (space above your collar bones). In some patients, the skin develops a yellowish tint due to accumulation of carotene in the blood, as its conversion to Vitamin A is decreased in hypothyroidism.
- Hair loss/thinning of hair. In particular, there is thinning of hair at the outer side of the eyebrows. Nails are brittle and grow very slowly.
Neurologic – Psychiatric Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid
- Depression, lethargy, lack of motivation. Anxiety may develop or get worse.
- Forgetfulness, decreased memory, and impaired cognitive function. Some patients are mistakenly labeled as having Alzheimer’s dementia.
- Dizziness may develop due to malfunction of the inner ear and cerebellum (lower part of the brain.)
- Lack of balance may also be due to Vitamin B12 deficiency which is quite common in patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which manifests as tingling and numbness in the hands.
Cardiovascular Symptoms Due To Low Thyroid
- Slowing of the heart rate develops frequently, which in severe cases can lead to syncope – sudden loss of consciousness.
- Increase in diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in blood pressure reading.) This happens due to accumulation of mucinous material inside the muscle of the heart. Subsequently, your heart muscle becomes weak and less elastic. A decrease in the elasticity of the heart muscle causes an increase in diastolic blood pressure.
- An increase in peripheral vascular resistance which further increases diastolic blood pressure. It also causes poor circulation, especially in the legs.
- Low cardiac output (pumping of heart) due to weak heart muscle. This may contribute to fatigue, especially upon exertion.
- Pericardial effusion (fluid accumulation in the sac around the heart) may develop rarely. All of the above findings are collectively called myxedema heart.
- Hypothyroidism raises your cholesterol by raising LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride (fats) levels in the blood. In this way, hypothyroidism increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease and heart attack.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Women
- Hypothyroidism often causes excessive and prolonged menstrual flow, which can lead to iron deficiency.
- On the other hand, hypothyroidism is sometimes associated with an increase in Prolactin, from the Pituitary gland. High Prolactin level can cause lack of menses and milky discharge from the nipples.
- Hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can cause frequent miscarriages and low fertility in women.
Life-threatening Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Prolonged, untreated hypothyroidism can be serious. In addition to severe fatigue, weight gain, depression, memory loss and dizziness, it can lead to a coma, known as myxedema coma, which carries a high mortality. Certain factors can trigger myxedema coma, which include exposure to severe cold, trauma and infections.
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism in Children and Adolescents
In addition to the usual symptoms mentioned above, hypothyroid symptoms in children and adolescents include:
- Short stature.
- Mental retardation, low I/Q, learning disabilities.
- Delayed puberty.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can affect any part of your body. Therefore, you should ask your physician to do a proper thyroid test and not just TSH, if a symptom persists.
For details, please refer to my book, “Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.”