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10 Hypothyroidism Symptoms & Signs you must know

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in front of your windpipe.

It secretes thyroid hormone, which regulates the development and metabolism of nearly every aspect of the body

Thyroid is under the control of pituitary gland, a tiny gland in the middle of your head. Pituitary releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is the signal to the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism can be either primary or secondary.

When the thyroid is unable to produce sufficient thyroxine despite the increased levels of TSH, it is known as primary hypothyroidism

When the thyroid is unable to produce sufficient thyroxine due to lack of stimulus in form of TSH, it is known as secondary hypothyroidism.

Females are eight times more susceptible to developing a thyroid disorder than males.

When you are hypothyroid, your entire body slows down, including your ability to respond to your environment. 

Here are 10 common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

1. Fatigue & Sleepiness:

This is the classic symptom of hypothyroidism. (ref)

People with low thyroid feel a distinct, lethargic tiredness or sluggishness, making you feel unnaturally sleepy, even though you have slept well the last night.

When you are hypothyroid, you are less able to reach Stage IV sleep, which is the deepest, most restful kind of sleep. This may be the reason why you feel tired, and sleepy.

So, feeling sleepier than usual without a good explanation could be a sign of hypothyroidism.

You might also note that your reflexes are delayed.

In one study, 50% of people with hypothyroidism felt constantly tired, while 42% of people with low thyroid hormone said they slept more than they used to. (ref)

2. Gaining weight

Unexpected weight gain is another common symptom of hypothyroidism.

Lack of thyroid hormone slows down your metabolism, and your basal metabolic rate, decreases. Because of this you may gain weight.

If you’ve been experiencing weight gain, first look for other changes in your lifestyle, which might explain this change.

If you seem to be gaining weight in spite of a good diet and exercise plan, it might be a clue to your hypothyroid condition.

3. Digestive changes:

Because your system has slowed down, apart from weight gain, you may also suffer from constipation, hardening of stools, bloating, poor appetite, and heartburn. 

Since the food is not moving through your stomach as quickly, you may experience acid reflux.

4. Cold intolerance

in cases of hypothyroidism, your basal metabolic rate decreases, reducing the amount of heat you generate.

That’s why low levels of thyroid hormone cause you feel colder and more sensitive to cold than usual.

So, if you’ve noticed yourself feeling colder than normal lately, it could be a sign of hypothyroidism.

5. Muscles weakness and aches

Patients with hypothyroidism frequently report muscle pain and spasms.

Low thyroid hormone shifts the metabolism towards catabolism, so, the body breaks down own tissues like muscle for energy.

Because of this, muscle strength decreases, which leads to a feeling of weakness and pain.

The pain may be severe enough to wake you up at night.

Treatment of hypothyroid hormone helps improve muscle strength and decrease aches and pains.

Muscle coordination can also be a problem. You may even find it increasingly difficult to perform simple motor tasks. This is due to the effects of hypothyroidism on the coordination center in the brain.

So, if you are feeling weak and your body aches without any strenuous activity, it may be an indication of hypothyroidism.

6. Hair loss

Hypothyroidism makes your hair thin, dry, and brittle.

Hair loss can occur as a result of decreased thyroid hormone levels, which inhibit hair follicle regeneration. But, this typically improves when hypothyroidism is treated.

Hypothyroidism may even cause coarsening of the hair.

If you notice sudden changes in your hair loss, such as patchiness or a change in texture, it may be a sign of hypothyroidism and should be evaluated.

7. Itchy & dry skin

Your skin may feel dry and coarse and it may flake upon scratching.

As hypothyroidism progresses, the skin may take on a yellowish tint due to an accumulation of carotene. Carotene is found in food and typically converted into vitamin A, but this conversion slows down as a result of hypothyroidism

Changes in skin that cannot be blamed on allergies like hay fever or new products can be a more practical sign of thyroid problems.

Finally, hypothyroidism is sometimes caused by autoimmune disease. This can affect the skin, causing swelling and redness known as myxedema. Myxedema is more specific to thyroid problems than other causes of dry skin

8. Feeling down or depressed

Depression in hypothyroidism is more frequent compared to hyperthyroidism.

In one study, thyroid hormone replacement improved depression in patients with mild hypothyroidism, compared to a placebo.

9. Trouble concentrating or remembering

Many patients with hypothyroidism may find it difficult to remember things or to concentrate at work. (ref)

Difficulties in memory or concentration can happen to anyone, but if they are sudden or severe, they could be a signal of hypothyroidism.

10. Menstrual cycle changes

If you are female and hypothyroid, your menstrual periods will probably become much heavier and more frequent than usual.

Irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding, both are linked to hypothyroidism.

Thyroid hormone directly affects the ovaries and uterus, so your ovaries may even stop producing/releasing an egg every month, which can lead to difficult conception.

Heavy bleeding may even result in anaemia.

There are several other conditions besides hypothyroidism that can cause heavy or irregular periods. 

If you have irregular or heavy periods do talk to your gynaecologist.

11. Voice changes

If your thyroid is enlarged, it may affect your vocal cords and cause your voice to sound hoarse or husky.

12. Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Fingernails

Your fingernails may become brittle and develop lines and grooves.

You may even find it difficult to apply nailpaint.

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism to ensure early detection and treatment. Consult with a healthcare provider if you suspect you may have hypothyroidism

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