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: MaDinger, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 19

I have had hypothyroidism since I was trying to conceive our daughter. Thirty years have passed and now I had an emergency room visit recently because it felt like my heart was pounding in my chest, throat and neck. They admitted me and told me my thyroid levels were good and my heart was normal, after all the testing. They sent me home and scheduled an appointment with my regular physician. She did many tests and found out I had Hashimoto's thyroiditis and my thyroid peroxide levels were almost double! She increased my levothyroxine. This explains why I have not been able to lose weight after exercising an hour a day. I am now gluten free for 8 days and have lost 8 pounds!

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Comment from: youlovetwiggy, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: June 22

I've been suffering with hypothyroid since I was about 20 or 21, I am now almost 25. I've been skinny all my life due to being on stimulants for my ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). My weight didn't really start to bother me till after years of being bullied and having self-image problems that increased in my 20s because of the sudden weight gain I had. In a matter of two weeks I had gained 26 pounds from being just 100 pounds before. People started to make really hurtful fat jokes which caused me to eat even more, and I ended up gaining 36 pounds. After being diagnosed with hypothyroid it took me about two years to lose all the weight. I'm sure it probably didn't help that they had me on the wrong dosage of medicine for so long. I eventually lost all the weight and for the remainder of the time I have been skinny again. I have on and off been taking my medicine correctly because I don't want to only weigh 100 pounds which is where my body keeps me when the thyroid medicine is working. So I wouldn't take it right and at least I'd gain 10 pounds and feel better about myself, but I suddenly started getting sick. I'd wake up crying because my body ached so badly. I had just started a new job I thought it was from all the heavy lifting. The aching had been on and off, it's frustrating because I have had depression, fatigue, aches, swelling, hate being touched by cold stuff, and all of a sudden, even now as I am typing, my wrists feel so tight in the joints. I can't even begin to explain what the pain feels like and no one understands. I was even more depressed than I normally am with my mental disorders and I just wasn't getting better. I finally found out about a week ago I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. I am just upset because it is my fault, and now I'll never get rid of it. I am still working and I am still in pain; I just want some relief. Some days are just so bad but I am tired of taking pain killers, anti-inflammatory pills, pain patches and creams, I just want to feel better.

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