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Symptoms of hypothyroidism begin slowly over weeks or months. You may have hypothyroidism for a long time before you realize you are ill. Symptoms change with the degree of hypothyroidism and how long your body has not had the proper amount of thyroid hormone.

You may have only one of these symptoms, but most people have a combination. Some with hypothyroidism do not have symptoms or have mild symptoms that go unnoticed for a long period of time.  

Symptoms include:

  • Enlarged thyroid gland, called goiter (not always present)
  • Fullness in the neck
  • Difficulty swallowing or trouble breathing (can happen if the goiter is very large)

Goiter


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Other symptoms or signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Coarse, brittle hair and hair loss
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Unable to tolerate cold temperatures
  • Weight gain (may happen despite having a poor appetite)
  • Constipation
  • Achy feeling all over
  • Depression and irritability
  • Memory loss and personality changes
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
  • Facial puffiness
  • Swollen feet or hands
  • Infertility
  • Reduced sweating

Symptoms of severe or extended cases include:

  • Swelling of the skin and tissue around the eyes
  • Bradycardia—slow heart rate
  • Hypothermia—low body temperature
  • Shortness of breath during activity or when lying flat
  • Drowsiness and lower mental alertness

References:

Hypothyroidism. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/hypothyroidism/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx. Updated February 27, 2012. Accessed November 20, 2012.

Hypothyroidism in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115914/Hypothyroidism-in-adults. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.

Singer P, Cooper D, Levy EG, et al. Treatment guidelines for patients with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. JAMA. 1995;273(10):808-812.

Wartofsky L. Myxedema coma. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2006;35(4):687-698.



Last reviewed March 2016 by Kim A. Carmichael, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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