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Hypothyroidism

What Are The Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism?

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 17:44

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually appear gradually, particularly in people over age 50.

A low level of thyroid hormone slows the body's metabolism, like running a motor car at a slow speed.

  • Most symptoms, such as lower heart rate, tiredness, poor memory or difficulty in thinking, even constipation, are due to inadequate stimulation of the various organs in the body due to insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.
  • Other symptoms, such as inability to tolerate cold environments, are directly due to the decrease in heat generated within the body by slowed metabolic activity.

Most people with hypothyroidism will experience some of the following symptoms.

  • Slow heart rate
  • Tiredness
  • Inability to tolerate cold
  • Weight gain (usually 5 to 10 pounds)
  • Emotional depression
  • Drowsiness, even after sleeping through the night
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods (in premenopausal women)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation

Later symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Hair loss
  • Impaired memory and difficulty in thinking
  • Voice becomes deeper
  • A numb sensation in the arms and legs
  • Puffiness in the face, especially around the eyes (a condition called myxedema, which is an indication that the disease has become serious)

Need To Know:

It's easy to dismiss symptoms such as feeling tired or being constipated as a part of aging, or as being linked to stress, which is why so many individuals with hypothyroidism remain undiagnosed.

Who Gets Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can develop at any point in the life span. It is more common in adults, but hypothyroidism in infants and children also can occur.

  • Women are three to eight times more likely than men to develop Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which can cause hypothyroidism.
  • The risk increases with age. By the time is woman reaches age 60, she has a one in five chance of having hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid disease can run in families. Sometimes it skips a generation, which means a person's parents may have no sign of thyroid disease, though one of his or her grandparents may have had it.
  • Individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis have a higher chance of hypothyroidism.
  • Hypothyroidism may occur in people with other autoimmune diseases such as Addison's disease and pernicious anemia.
  • It may occur in people with prematurely gray hair (before the age of 30) or those who have a skin condition known as vitiligo, in which the normal pigmentation of the skin is lost and appears as white patches that do not tan normally in the sun.
  • Individuals with certain health conditions, who have had certain medical treatments, or who have taken certain medications also are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
 

Hypothyroidism