Hypothyroidism can be difficult to diagnose as there are no characteristic symptoms and they develop gradually. Signs and symptoms become apparent mostly as the condition worsens.
Hypothyroidism can be difficult to diagnose as there are no characteristic symptoms and they develop gradually. There are no symptoms that are present in everyone with hypothyroidism or any symptom that is not present in some other disease. Apart from this, most symptoms observed in hypothyroidism are complaints that many people with a normal thyroid can also have and are often attributed to aging. Hence, it is often hard to diagnose hypothyroidism just by its symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often not conspicuous and most patients with mild hypothyroidism may have no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms become apparent mostly as the condition worsens. Most symptoms that develop are related to a metabolic slowing of the body. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Feeling generally tired or fatigued.
- Slow and modest weight gain.
- Cold intolerance (not being able to tolerate cold).
- Excessive sleepiness.
- Dry and coarse hair.
- Dry skin and brittle nails.
- Muscle cramps.
- Increased cholesterol levels.
- Decreased concentration.
- Vague aches and pain.
- Swelling of the legs.
Some other less common symptoms include change in voice (hoarse voice), irregular or heavy menstrual periods in women, infertility, loss of sex drive, carpal tunnel syndrome (which causes pain and numbness in the hand) and memory loss or having trouble thinking clearly.
Symptoms of severe hypothyroidism
If the disease becomes more severe, some symptoms that may develop include:
- Puffiness around the eyes.
- Slowing of the heart rate (bradycardia).
- Decrease in body temperature.
- Heart failure.
People with very severe hypothyroidism may develop a life-threatening coma known as myxedema coma. In most cases of severe hypothyroidism, myxedema coma is triggered by severe illness, surgery, stress or traumatic injury. Unlike most people with hypothyroidism, who can be treated on outpatient basis with oral medications, a person with myxedema coma requires hospitalisation and immediate treatment with thyroid hormones given by injection.
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