Hypothyroidism - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism 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 are listed below:

  • 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 the disease 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, a myxedema coma tends to be triggered by severe illness, surgery, stress, or traumatic injury. This condition requires hospitalization and immediate treatment with thyroid hormones given by injection.

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

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Comment from: Gabby, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 14

I was 29 when all of a sudden I started gaining a lot of weight, my hair was falling out like crazy, but since I have a lot of it, I wasn"t really concerned. My skin was very, very dry, I was so very cold, more and more and I was so sleepy and tired all the time, which was unusual for me because, on the contrary, I had always experimented trouble falling asleep and would sleep less than the average person. My prolactin levels were high and the general opinion was that I probably had an abscess in my brain (what!). So, luckily for me, the doctor I was supposed to see was not there that day and a well-seasoned internal medicine doctor saw me. In five minutes he asked me all the questions pertaining to symptoms of hypothyroidism and I had them all. He ordered tests and sure enough, my thyroid was so out of whack. A couple of years had gone by before anyone could tell me what was wrong. I kept looking at the symptoms isolated from one another, finding a reasonable cause for each one.

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Comment from: Nurdreamshm, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 16

I was diagnosed with hypothyroid at 29 years of age. I gained 125 lb. over a year trying to find out why I was getting fat. I was put on 50 mcg Synthroid. I had normal TSH levels but kept gaining weight. My dose was put all the way up to 150 mcg but I continued to gain. I was on an 1100 calorie diet and had to exercise for no less than 3 hours a day, but I kept gaining. My endocrinologist swore I was lying in my food journal. I was still cold all the time, nails peeling and cracking, lizard skin and missing my periods altogether. Now I"m almost 300 lb. I went to a new doctor. I was put on Armour Thyroid, and lost 60 lb. without exercising. Most of my problems were gone. My skin never got back to being silky like before thyroid issues, but my period was back to normal, I lost weight and overall felt better. From my experience all Endocrinologist believe that Synthroid is the cure all. It is not.

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