Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Symptoms

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The symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

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What are the signs and 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 of Hashimoto's thyroiditis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Modest weight gain
  • Cold intolerance
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dry, coarse hair
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased concentration
  • Vague aches and pains
  • Swelling of the legs

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), which 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
Return to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

See what others are saying

Comment from: Jackie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 10

For the last 7 years I was having problems with headaches, enlarged joints, and severe abdominal pain. I also had bouts of dizziness and hair loss. Weight gain for no reason. I just wanted to sleep all the time! I have seen a neurologist and endocrinologist, plus my general physician (GP). They did several thousand dollars' worth of tests, which I am still paying for and I finally fired them all except for my GP. I have and have had for many years diverticulitis disease. So I called him to see me for this stomach pain. He looked at all my records for the last 5 years and said I need to be on medications for Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Now I ask how can he tell, and not an endocrinologist, because some of them are just in it for the money. I had normal levels TSH, T4 and T3 so they never looked any farther. All my headaches are gone! All my stomach pains are gone! The pain in my joints is lessening every day! My hair has stopped falling out! My weight has stabilized! So, I say do not give up, just stay positive and keep seeing doctors! It has been only 5 months for me on medications and I feel so much better! I now have nodules in my thyroid but they are noncancerous so we are leaving them be for the present time. Hope you all find relief. I know how terrible it is! Because I am 54 they thought some of it was my midlife issues!

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Comment from: Cali, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

I am new to Hashimoto's thyroiditis disease if that is what it is. I have had a low thyroid since 2011 and just this past winter had a very bad experience with the 'winter blues' as they called it. So very tired, all I wanted to do was sleep, very cranky, couldn't stand the cold temperatures to even walk my dog, felt very sluggish, slowed mind, slow moving, muscle fatigue in my arms at times, swollen throat it felt most of the time. It took all that I had to work out most of the time. Finally in March I went to the doctor, because I couldn't stand myself anymore. Doctor says thyroid levels were fine, but that I was 'sad' due to winter. I was very low on vitamin D, and potassium. Once summer came and after taking vitamin D and potassium, I felt a lot better, but still not myself. Finally my doctor referred me to an endocrinologist who found out that I had Hashimoto's. So I guess that it doesn't matter that levels might be fine, but it does matter that your gland isn't working properly. I got my Synthroid upped to a higher dose, and it's been only a couple weeks, but I am feeling better; a little tired at times, but nothing like before!

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