Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Symptoms and signs of Hashimoto's thyroiditis resemble those of hypothyroidism generally and are often subtle. They are not specific (which means they can mimic the symptoms of many other conditions) and are often attributed to aging. Patients with mild hypothyroidism may have no signs or symptoms. The symptoms generally become more obvious as the condition worsens, and the majority of these complaints are related to a metabolic slowing of the body. Common symptoms and signs are listed below:

As hypothyroidism becomes more severe, there may be puffiness around the eyes, a slowing of the heart rate, a drop in body temperature, and heart failure. In its most profound form, severe hypothyroidism may lead to a life-threatening coma (myxedema coma). In a severely hypothyroid individual, myxedema coma tends to be triggered by severe illness, surgery, stress, or traumatic injury. This condition requires hospitalization and immediate treatment with thyroid hormone.

Properly diagnosed, hypothyroidism can be easily and completely treated with thyroid hormone replacement. Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), worsening heart failure, and an accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) or heart (pericardial effusion).

People with Hashimoto's thyroiditis often initially experience a hyperthyroid phase (too much thyroid hormone), called hashitoxicosis, as thyroid hormone leaks out of the damaged gland as it is destroyed. Eventually, they become hypothyroid.

Other symptoms and signs include:

  • Swelling of the thyroid gland (due to the inflammation), can cause a feeling of tightness or fullness in the throat
  • A lump in the front of the neck from the enlarged thyroid gland called a goiter
  • Difficulty swallowing solids and/or liquids due to the enlargement of the thyroid gland with compression of the esophagus
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/27/2013

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