Hypothyroidism - Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism depend on the thyroid hormone's level of deficiency. Thyroid symptoms are not noticeable in the initial stage. However, as their metabolism continues to slow down, the patient may develop some or all of the symptoms mentioned below:
- weight gain
- muscle weakness
- muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- dry skin
- impaired memory
- puffy face
- increased sensitivity to cold
- pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
- hair thinning
- elevated blood cholesterol level
- heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- decreased heart rate
When to see a doctor: One must see our doctor if they are feeling tired for no reason or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism; namely, dry skin, pale, puffy face, constipation, high cholesterol levels or a hoarse voice.
If hypothyroidism is not treated properly, the patient many experience different problems, such as the following:
- Goitre: constant stress on the thyroid gland to produce more hormones may cause the gland to become larger, a condition known as goitre. A large goitre can affect the patient's appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing.
- Heart problems: hypothyroidism may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, primarily because of high levels of bad cholesterol. Hypothyroidism may increase the size of the patient's heart or cause heart failure.
- Mental health issues: depression may occur due to hypothyroidism and become more severe over time. Hypothyroidism can also slow down the patient's mental function.
- Peripheral neuropathy: long-term, uncontrolled hypothyroidism can cause damage to the nerves and produce a condition called neuropathy. Symptoms of neuropathy may include pain, numbness and tingling in the area affected by nerve damage.
- Infertility: low levels of the thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, which affects fertility.
- Birth defects: babies born to women with untreated thyroid disease may have a higher risk of birth defects than babies born to healthy mothers. These children are also more prone to serious intellectual and developmental problems.