Hypothyroidism Signs & Symptoms

The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that produces thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism occurs when too little thyroid hormone is produced. Mayo Clinic explains that a typical sufferer is a woman over 50; however, both genders and all ages can be afflicted. A deficiency of thyroid hormone affects your metabolism and other hormone-related processes in the body. Understanding the symptoms of hypothyroidism can help you seek prompt treatment and avoid potentially serious complications.

Changes in Appearance

Hypothyroidism can change the look of your face. You may become pale and have a puffy face, especially around the eyes. You may notice that your eyebrows are thinning. Your hair may seem dry and brittle, and you may lose more hair than you grow. Your skin may be rough and dry all over. A thick tongue and blank expression are also indicative of low thyroid. Your hands and feet may be puffy and your fingernails thin and brittle. Eventually, your skin may seem thicker than usual.

Fatigue

There are other symptoms that aren’t obvious to others. You may feel sluggish and fatigued. It may seem as though too much effort is required to get through the day. On your days off, you may sleep for 12 hours of more.

Weight Gain

You may gain weight that is hard to lose; this may contribute to your sluggishness. Many people complain of a lack of appetite in spite of gaining weight. Your sense of smell and taste may be diminished, further hurting your appetite. You may feel constipated much of the time.

Cold Intolerance

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, people with hypothyroidism may feel unable to tolerate cold weather. This may manifest as wearing more clothing than those around you or turning up the heat until others complain. Your skin may feel cool to the touch.

Fertility Problems

Both women and men may experience fertility problems and a loss of sexual interest. Women may have especially heavy menstrual periods, and men may have problems with sexual performance.

Muscle and Joint Problems

Hypothroidism can cause you to have muscle cramps and pain. Your joints may feel stiff, tender and achy. You may notice that you are physically weaker than usual.

Mental and Emotional Changes

People may complain that you seem irritable and slow to make decisions. You may feel depressed. Eventually, you may have memory loss and difficulty thinking. If these symptoms occur due to hypothyroidism, treatment should lead to improvement.

Hoarseness

Hypothyroidism can make your voice hoarse, causing you to sound as if your throat is irritated. Others may say your voice sounds deeper than usual.

Cardiac Problems

Your pulse and heart rate may slow to 60 beats per minute or less. If your hypothyroidism is severe, you may be diagnosed with congestive heart failure and you may develop angina (chest pain). Your cholesterol level may become elevated.

About this Author

Lucy Boyd is a registered nurse who graduated summa cum laude from the University of the State of New York – Regents College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2000. A professional writer since 2007, Boyd is the author of two medical books. Trade magazines such as “PI Magazine” call on her to create feature articles explaining psychiatric and medical issues.