The thyroid (a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck) is very important to the body as it regulates the body’s metabolism by secreting hormones that determines how the body burns calories and uses energy. Hypothyroidism, which means underactive thyroid, is a malfunction of the thyroid gland where it doesn’t produce enough of important hormones. Hypothyroidism affects many people and the majority are women. It is found to be most common between the ages of 30 to 50. Below is a hypothyroidism symptoms checklist.
Some people with hypothyroidism feel no symptoms, or maybe minor fatigue. However when the metabolism of the body slows down, a patient may feel more obvious symptoms. In hyperthyroidism a person may feel a few or many of these common symptoms.
- Fatigue and sluggish feeling
- Cold sensitivity
- Unexplained weight gain, and/or difficulty losing weight
- Muscle weakness, aches and stiffness
- Joint pains, stiffness and swelling
- Pale, dry skin
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Brittle hair and nails, along with hair loss
- Decreased libido
If the hypothyroidism isn’t controlled or treated the symptoms become more severe and others appear, such as:
- Decreased taste and smell
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Puffy look of the face, hands, and feet
- Slow speech
- Thickening of the skin
- Thinning of the eyebrow
A common cause of underactive thyroid is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, where the body becomes allergic to the thyroid hormone. It then produces antibodies against its own thyroid hormone, causing a swelling of the thyroid gland called a goiter. Hashimoto’s can also be linked with other disorders such as pernicious anemia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and yeast infections.
A rare form of hypothyroidism which results from an untreated condition is called myxedema. Symptoms include low blood pressure, breathing problems, very low body temperature and possible coma. This stage is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
Children and Teens with Hypothyroidism
We normally think about middle age to older adults when discussing this condition, however, anyone can develop hypothyroidism including babies, children, and teens.
Some babies are born without a thyroid gland or have one that is not working properly. They usually do not have noticeable symptoms; however, if hyperthyroidism becomes problematic, these symptoms may appear:
- Jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Face appears puffy
- Tongue is large and protrudes
- Babies fail to grow and develop at a normal rate
If these babies are not treated when hypothyroidism is found, severe physical and mental retardation can arise.
Children and teens that are diagnosed with hyperthyroid dysfunction normally show the same symptoms as adults with the exception of poor growth and development, and delayed puberty.
Doctors can diagnose hypothyroidism with a simple blood test which measures levels of different thyroid hormones and TSH. The TSH hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland and in turn helps to regulate thyroid hormone production. In a person with underactive thyroid the TSH is elevated. Hypothyroidism is treatable with medication and supervision by the person’s doctor or a glandular specialist (Endocrinologist). Use this hypothyroidism symptoms checklist to help guide you and your doctor toward a diagnosis.
Mayo Clinic, MayoClinic.com, Hypothyroidism, last update June 23, 2009
Hypothyroidism: Too Little Thyroid Hormone, Part 1 - Introduction, Causes and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism, last update July 16, 2009
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thyroid_gland-fr.svg