19 Dangerous Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Many people are not aware of the common signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is characterized by a variety of symptoms, by which a human body can be affected from appetite to body temperature. Bodily reactions can be adversely affected according to the fluctuating levels of thyroxin and triiodothyronine releases.
One way to identify hypothyroidism symptoms is by making a diagnosis for hypothyroidism, which usually includes either physical examination or by conducting blood tests to determine the thyroid function tests. I have shortlisted the most important and common symptoms of hypothyroidism, so that you can have a clear idea about the consequences.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. These include:
- Cold Intolerance
- Cardiovascular Changes
- Fatigue and Sleep Apnea
- Thinning of Hair
- Intestinal Changes and Weight Gain
- Psychiatric Misdiagnosis and Depression
- High Cholesterol Levels
- Low Levels of Concentration and Poor Memory
- Tenderness and Stiffness in Muscle Joints
- Changes in Menstrual Cycle
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Vocal Chord Changes
- Stunted Growth in Children
- Skin Diseases
- Vision Changes
I have elaborated each one of the above hypothyroidism symptoms to get you a clear idea on the subject. This article might be a lot lengthy then other articles, as I personally want you to understand how hypothyroidism can affect your health and happiness in future. This article covers almost all important symptoms of hypothyroidism, by which you can stay alert to condemn it yourself.
The good thing about hypothyroidism is that you may find it comfortable with hot and sultry weather more than ever. The not so good news is that you might find it difficult to tolerate cold weather. As your body’s metabolic reactions slow down you may not find a comfortable temperature and you always find it freezing. You feel like carrying some woolen clothes along with you to compensate for the cold all the time.
Hypothyroidism is usually characterized by high blood pressure and often a slow pulse rate known as bradycardia. Severity in hypothyroidism may lead to weakness in heart muscle fibers thus causing heart failure and other cardiovascular complications. Severity in hypothyroidism can lead to extreme cholesterol levels, which leads to blockage of blood vessels in the functioning of the body called Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
Chances are that coronary arteries that feed the heart muscle may be attacked leading to heart failure. Sometimes shortness of breath and pain in your chest (angina) can be misdiagnosed with hypothyroidism symptoms by experts. This scenario is rare as one does not face any heart risks at the very initial stage and even before you head towards this, you will have to face other obvious hypothyroidism signs. There may be other effects such as swelling of your legs and feet, calf pain, which is caused by hardening of arteries. Often these symptoms causing other disorders are misinterpreted as hypothyroid symptoms.
Constipation is one of the most annoying symptoms for people who likely suffer from hypothyroidism. Clinically constipation is defined as having three bowel movements or less in a week. Constipation is usually caused when a large amount of water is absorbed from the food or when the colon (usually referred as large intestine) isn’t strong enough or contracting frequently. As food moves through the colon, the water is absorbed and after this process a waste product is formed.
At normal times when water continues to be absorbed muscles in the colon move the stool towards the rectum and the stool is automatically eliminated when it becomes solid. When constipation occurs, the stool movement is slowed down. Thus sluggish and weaker colon contractions are the factors to chronic constipation problems in people with hypothyroidism.
Fatigue and Sleep Apnea
This is the most serious problem when a person is prone to hypothyroidism. A person feeling extremely tired despite having enough sleep can be considered as a hypothyroid until proven otherwise. It has adverse effects on a person and makes him/her feel more tensed, as they easily get irritated for no apparent reason, and may even fall into depression easily. One may not be interested in participating daily routine activities like even involving in normal conversations with people.
Hypothyroidism is also associated with sleep apnea. Frequent apnea can cause unrelieved exhaustion and is seen in conjunction with snoring. Researchers say that when you are hypothyroid you reach stage IV sleep, which is considered as the deepest and most restful kind of sleep.
Thinning of Hair
Your hair becomes dull, damaged, dry and brittle when you are hypothyroid. Hair loss is common in such condition and your hair may become much thinner where it appears as sparse or as body hair. When hair loss occurs it is suggested for women to seek a trichologist, as from their perspective it is not ideal for normal body metabolism, plus the possibility of anemia and low iron can greatly contribute to hair loss and other density changes. You hair grows back when your thyroid hormone levels reach normal on thyroid hormone replacement.
This symptom is commonly observed in women and nails become more brittle and develop grooves and lines causing irritation. Brittle nails that are dry and frail and easily can tear leading to pain and infection. So, for women with hypothyroidism it is important to take enough care and can undergo a treatment with the help of a licensed manicurist on a regular basis.
Intestinal Changes and Weight Gain
Intestinal changes are directly or indirectly related to constipation such as hardening of stools and other symptoms associated with this. Poor appetite, bloating (that causes bad breath), and heartburn are some other symptoms. I have also heard that one might even experience a condition called acid reflux in which semi digested food comes back to the esophagus.
Due to the lack of thyroid hormone the food moves slowly through your stomach and this considerably affects the body’s metabolic behavior. Metabolic activity must be speed enough to burn the calories and fat off the body to maintain a proper weight. But as this is slowed down, you might put on more weight or more pounds of fat. Your weight might remain the same as your appetite may decrease gradually.
Psychiatric Misdiagnosis and Depression
Hypothyroidism has so much do with depression traits in a person. The person may no longer feel interested in anything and may lose complete interest in sex. Hypothyroidism is linked to psychiatric depression, can lead to psychiatric misdiagnosis and this usually happens as physical symptoms of unipolar depression overlap with hypothyroidism.
People with hypothyroidism are found to be prone to myxedema madness where they are likely to exhibit odd behavior like psychosis, aural and visual hallucinations, paranoia etc. Some of the symptoms related to depression in hypo thyroids also include feelings of sadness, difficulty in thinking, sleeping, obsessing over with negative collection of thoughts like hopelessness, feelings of guilt, restlessness, suicidal thoughts etc.
Constant stimulation from high TSH levels i.e., stimulation of thyroid to release more hormones may cause the gland to become larger. The enlargement of the thyroid gland may affect your appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the most common causes of a goiter.
High Cholesterol Levels
People with high cholesterol levels are often suggested to go through tests to know if they are affected with hypothyroidism. High cholesterol is likely to bring a host of problems like heart disease, weight gain, low metabolism, which can be resolved or controlled through diet until the TSH levels reach normal levels. Factors that affect high cholesterol levels include diabetes, age and gender, heredity and other causes.
Familial hypercholesterolemia refers to a condition where high cholesterol can’t be controlled through diet as it is a genetic cause. You are said to have high cholesterol if there are high levels of LDL cholesterol in blood. The effect of hypothyroidism is to increase these levels of LDL cholesterol levels in blood. This can be controlled by making your TSH levels to normal with the dosage of levothyroxine.
Low Levels of Concentration and Poor Memory
Hypothyroidism can slow down your mental functioning. It leads to memory loss in the long run and is a threat to elderly people who feel as though dementia is settling in. It may not completely lead to memory loss but if you are hypothyroid the spacey feeling makes you difficult to concentrate at work. If this problem of hypothyroidism is left undiagnosed it may lead to senility. It is always better to test your thyroid function if you are really affected by hypothyroid or it may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s.
Tenderness and Stiffness in Muscle Joints
Muscle aches and joint aches are common complaints heard in people with hypothyroidism. This problem may contribute to crampier periods in women. Women are suggested to consult an endocrinologist or gynecologist when this happens. However, when proper treatment is given this condition is completely eliminated and people with hypothyroidism believe that they are experiencing some kind of arthritic symptoms.
Sometimes the pain in the muscle and joints may be severe enough to wake you up in the middle of the night. Even muscle coordination is a serious problem and you may find it difficult to move your body parts even if they’re just simple movements.
Changes in Menstrual Cycle
Dysfunction of the female cycle is one of the most common symptoms of the hypothyroidism. The onset of menses may be delayed or it may come years early with hypothyroidism in children. At the other end menopause may happen either much too early or much too late. The most common condition is that of irregular periods and at other times it can make the conception difficult with the hormonal changes.
One may also develop anemia because of heavy periods. Endometrium, the lining of the uterus requires thyroid hormone for proper growth and functioning just like any other tissues in the body.
Your peripheral nerves get damaged if hypothyroidism is uncontrolled in the long run. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that carry information to your brain, spinal cord, arms, legs and the rest of your body. Occurring of peripheral neuropathy in the body contributes to numbness and tingling anywhere in the body affected by the nerve damage. Such numbness usually occurs in fingers, hands, feet, arms, or legs.
Numbness and tingling may lead to a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome which is caused by the compression on nerves due to the thickening and swelling of the body tissues under the skin. It may also cause loss of muscle control and muscle tenderness.
Vocal Chord Changes
The low concentration levels of thyroid hormone may result in the swelling of vocal chords and thus cause your voice to sound hoarse or husky and it may tend to crack a lot. As vocal folds to be thicker than normal it lowers the frequency of the vibrations of the chords during voice production. If a solid nodule develops nearby, pressure on it may cause partial paresis of one of the vocal chords. If the nodule is large enough it adds mass to the voice box causing voice distortion, squeaks, and reverberation. They can be diagnosed by using videostroboscopy.
Stunted Growth in Children
You might notice your 12 year old child looking too short when compared to his/her peers. Take your child to a doctor and you may find that hypothyroidism is one of the reasons for discontinued growth. This issue can be resolved if treatment with thyroid hormone replacement is given and also if your child doesn’t spend too much time in puberty.
Dry and flaky skin is the most common skin problem one faces if they are hypothyroid. This usually happens because circulation of the blood and oxygen is decreased like any other body part and also the production of mucopolysaccharides is increased dramatically in skin. These two factors together affect a hypothyroid person to impetigo, acne, eczema, cellulitis, erysipelas, ichthyosis (fish scale skin) and psoriasis.
One of these conditions is detected and relieved with thyroid extract. Lupus involving the skin clear up with thyroid extract occurs when the disease does not progress further to the systematic involvement of the internal organs.
Your skin will become dry on your kneecaps and elbows and you may spot yellowish hue as the hypothyroidism worsens. The yellow color is a carotene compound found in the diet which is converted to Vitamin A inside the body but hangs around because of hypothyroidism. As blood doesn’t reach the blood vessels you may appear pale and washed out. You can also find the thickening of your skin and underlying tissues a condition called myxedema, which is characterized by the puffiness around your eyes and face and may even involve the swelling of tongue.
Vision changes or the eye changes associated with hypothyroidism is called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) which causes multiple eye problems. You might find swelling around your eyes and loss of hair. Discomfort in the eyes, protruding eyeballs, including vision changes are some of the problems faced during this period. It may lead to temporary changes in some people by bringing back the TSH levels to normal and in some it might lead to permanent eye problems.
Infertility in women and incompetent sperm in men can also be considered as the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Low levels of thyroid hormones may disturb ovulation which impairs infertility. In the case of autoimmune disorders, chances are that it may also impair fertility. Many childless couples may have the misfortune to be hypothyroid and yet not have an abnormal lab value to convince the doctor to replace the thyroid replacement therapy. However, treating thyroid hormone with thyroid replacement therapy may not completely fix the issue so other alternatives have to be considered.
A person may face as many symptoms as possible if he is prone to hypothyroidism and these can be resolved by thyroid hormone replacement therapy in some cases or in some may even require a permanent treatment and continuing for the rest of their lives.
About the Author
As a women who has hypothyroidism, I would like to share all of my knowledge to all of you about hypothyroidism and how can you make change of your life.