Hypothyroid is a state that results from thyroid hormone deficiency. The thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling the body’s metabolic rate. Hypothyroid symptoms will vary with the severity of the deficiency as well as the amount of time that the body has experienced the deprivation of the said hormone.
As such, symptoms are associated with slow metabolism leading to a general slowing of all physical and mental processes in individuals with hypothyroid. Symptoms, initially, are oftentimes barely noticeable, but as the condition progresses, and the metabolism continues to slow, more obvious symptoms will develop.
Early Symptoms of Hypothyroid
Early symptoms of hypothyroid include the following :
- Fatigue or listlessness -making it challenging for the individual to go through activities of daily living.
- Increased need for sleep
- Irritability – The patient may be irritable at first, but this can later lead to depression as emotional responses become subdued.
- Dry and itchy skin
- Thin and brittle fingernails
- Thinning and loss of hair
- Increased sensitivity to cold or cold intolerance – the patient may even complain of being cold in a warm
- Muscle aches and pains – these symptoms of hypothyroid relate to slow muscular contraction.
- Slowed thought process – As the thought process starts to slow, one may seem to be apathetic. Mental responses will be dulled.
- Sluggish memory and reflexes – Forgetfulness may be observed.
- Menstrual irregularities – In women, menstrual irregularities such as bleeding between menstrual periods (metrorrhagia) or heavier than normal periods (menorrhagia) are present.
- Unexplained weight gain -One may gain weight with no increase in food intake or even with decreased appetite, which is also one of the symptoms of hypothyroid.
- Goiter – abnormally enlarged thyroid gland leading to swelling in the neck or larynx can result from either the underproduction or overproduction of the thyroid hormone, so this can also occur in a patient with symptoms of hypothyroid such as this, the enlargement of the thyroid, result from constant stimulation of the gland to release the said hormones.
- Vital signs are likely to be subnormal in individuals with hypothyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroid, such as slow heart rate (bradycardia) and decreased contraction of the heart results in the diminished cardiac output.
- Pallor – With diminished cardiac output, there will be less oxygen in the blood, causing the patient to be pale
- Short of breath – Respiration will also be slowed.
- Constipation – Relative to the slowing of the body’s processes, the patient will be having difficulties with bowel movement.
- Decreased libido or lack of sexual desire is also one of the common symptoms of hypothyroid.
Symptoms of Hypothyroid At A Chronic Stage
Hypothyroid symptoms at a chronic stage include the following :
- Slowed speech and hoarse, breaking voice – Deepening of the voice may also occur as one of the symptoms of hypothyroid.
- Heart problems may emerge. Elevated cholesterol levels in the blood, atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease are associated with severe hypothyroid. Symptoms indicating heart failure or cardiovascular collapse should be monitored in these patients.
- Personality and cognitive changes – similar characteristics of dementia may be observed.
- Myxedema – With yet increasing severity and prolongation of the disease, myxedema develops which is characterized by swelling of the skin and other tissues, particularly around the eyes and cheeks causing the patient to appear to have thick and puffy features. This is due to the build-up of fluid in the tissues. Myxedema is rare, but when not treated can be life-threatening as low blood pressure, unresponsiveness and even coma are associated with this.
- Myxedema coma – the most extreme and severe stage of hypothyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroid, which are indicative of increasing lethargy or stupor should be carefully monitored as this can progress to coma.
As mentioned above, symptoms of hypothyroid stems from the lack of thyroid hormone which then cause the different symptoms from vague, nonspecific complaints to severe ones that may be life-threatening if left untreated.