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A Doctor's View on Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Read the Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid glad does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones are important in controlling the bodies metabolism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary from mild to severe. Examples of the most common hypothyroidism symptoms include weight gain, constipation, depression, feeling "run down," thinning or brittle hair or nails, intolerance to cold, loss of libido, and sleepiness. Read the entire Doctor's View

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), or an accumulation of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion).

Return to Hypothyroidism

See what others are saying

Comment from: Needhelp, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 01

I'm having hypothyroidism, and my doctor lowered my medicines. Now I am having dizzy spells, weight gain, cramps and constipation. I am so disappointed that doctors do not listen. I have been on this dose for 10 years with no problems. So upset now I don't have a life, struggling just to get out of bed. Up for one hour and I want to sleep all day. You can do that when you are dead. Why can't a doctor listen! I don't care about these tests. They don't work for my symptoms. If you don't have a life just better to be dead. If I didn't have a disabled child to take care of I would just rather be dead. I hate to even talk to the doctors anymore. My medicines need to be back like they were, this is not working. Why change something when it is working!

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: sassyred59, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

I was seeing a doctor who treated my hypothyroid symptoms rather than going by blood levels. When I moved to another city and got a new doctor, she went by blood levels only and lowered my medicine from 100 mg to 25 mg and now all my symptoms are returning; weight gain, severe heat intolerance, sweating a lot, dizzy spells, confusion, extreme fatigue, and muscle cramps in my legs and feet. I have theses blackouts that only happen occasionally when weather is hot. But my doctor refuses to believe it is my thyroid because my blood levels are in normal range. She keeps telling me it is either my heart or COPD because blackouts are not symptom of thyroid. I am trying to find a new doctor.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: hotrod, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 06

I have been dealing with hypothyroidism for the past 15 to 20 years. Symptoms include excessive weight gain, low energy, nonexistent libido, brittle nails, dry skin, tired all the time, anemia, insomnia, aches and pains, and depression. Instead of being cold, I am always hot. Sometimes I can't sleep because my feet are so hot so I have to go stand in a snow bank or cold water in the tub. I have tried watching what I eat and do lots of exercise, but really struggle to lose weight. In the past 4 years my TSH has been anywhere between .05 and 14.32. Ferritin runs between 46 and 86. I am desperate for help to help me feel better.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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