Originally published: 05.AUG.2019
Last updated: 08.SEP.2023
The thyroid, the small butterfly-shaped gland located just at the front of your neck, plays a major role in metabolism, growth, and development. That’s why, if it is unable to produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which is the case in hypothyroidism, you are likely to experience a whole range of symptoms that affect your overall health.
Let’s take a look at the hypothyroidism symptoms checklist and what you should do if you are experiencing the symptoms of an underactive thyroid on a regular basis.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism: Checklist
Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. In its early stages, it may not cause many noticeable signs, however as your metabolism continues to slow down, you may start to notice more obvious symptoms. These might include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Sensitivity to the cold
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Mood changes
Related article: I Knew I Had a Thyroid Condition When...
Fatigue and feeling weak or drained are common in those who have an underactive thyroid
- Low levels of thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine lead to a slowdown in cell function, also known as the metabolic rate.
- The thyroid gland controls the rate at which thyroid hormones are released into the blood and circulate around the body.
- If you have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid, chemical reactions in the body will slow down in response to the insufficient volume of thyroid hormones being produced and circulated in the body. A slowdown in these chemical reactions, also known as your metabolism may impact your physical and emotional state.
- When the metabolic processes in your cells slow down, you slow down. Decreased thyroid function commonly results in a lower mood, energy levels, and fatigue.
Related article: Why am I so Tired? 6 Common Causes of Fatigue
#2 Unexplained weight gain
Hypothyroidism may lead to weight gain as the metabolism slows down.
- Weight gain via an underactive thyroid may also be caused by water retention due to changes in water-salt balance in the body.
- Thyroid hormones regulate the basal metabolic rate. The basal metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy per unit of time that a person requires to function while resting.
- If you have an underactive thyroid, your required calorie intake may lower as fewer calories are being expended as energy. Your appetite may also decline as your body converts fewer calories into energy, it is more likely that you will not burn off excess calories, and will store excess weight as fat leading to overall weight gain.
It is important to remember that no more than 10-20 pounds of weight gain may be attributed to thyroid issues. If you are concerned, ask your doctor for tips on how you can balance your levels.
#3 Higher Sensitivity To The Cold
An underactive thyroid may increase a person's sensitivity to the cold while an overactive thyroid may cause an individual to feel too hot.
- Thyroid hormones affect the amount of heat the body produces. Individuals with hypothyroidism will produce less heat than those with hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroid hormones also have the ability to influence how much our blood vessels dilate or constrict. In hypothyroidism, the blood vessels tend to constrict or narrow due to a lack of thyroid hormone, and less oxygen can reach tissues in the body. This can result in cold peripheries like the hands and feet.
If you notice that you feel cold at warm temperatures or colder again when you're outside, you should talk to your doctor about this symptom as it is prominent in cases of hypothyroidism.
#4 Hair Loss
Generally, hair passes through three stages of growth known as the hair cycle, and hair follicles grow and are replenished through this. Hair follicles are dependent on thyroid hormones to ensure hair growth takes place at a normal rate.
- Hair loss can occur in instances of an under or overactive thyroid. When hair loss does occur, it generally affects the entire scalp as opposed to patches.
- Hair loss usually becomes apparent following several months of living with the condition.
- Oftentimes the treatment of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism using anti-thyroid drugs is blamed as the culprit for hair becoming thin or falling out. However, the use of anti-thyroid drugs is rarely to blame and the withdrawal of treatment can cause hair loss issues to worsen.
If you are experiencing hypothyroidism-related hair loss, remember
- Don't panic, hair loss associated with thyroid issues is temporary.
- Be patient, regrowth of hair may take some time but know that the anti-thyroid medication will stimulate your hair to grow.
- Be wary of certain hair supplements as many of them contain iodine and will tamper with the function of your medication.
- Know that each case is different, and each instance of hypothyroidism is unique. Always follow the personalized guidelines set for you by a qualified medical practitioner.
- Try not to stress, believe that your treatment plan will work and that is half the battle, you are not alone.
Related article: Hair Falling Out? 4 Health-Related Reasons Why
Hypothyroidism may cause constipation due to the slow-down in metabolic processes.
- Constipation is a common symptom of an underactive thyroid and it is related back to slowed metabolism. In the absence of sufficient thyroid hormones circulating in the blood, a number of physiological functions may slow down.
- Constipation may occur when the digestion becomes sluggish. Contractions of the intestine may also be slowed leading to constipation and a change in bowel movements.
Hypothyroidism can cause bloating and this is due to water retention. Water retention happens when there is a change in water-salt balance in the body.
- Bloating, especially in the face may occur in instances of hypothyroidism related to autoimmune disease.
- Studies have shown this may be due to the presence of an increased amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin, which can hold a large amount of water and swell. This may present as a bloated face, puffiness under the eyes, and swollen ankles.
#7 Dry Skin
Hypothyroidism may be characterized by dry skin due to the slowdown in skin cell turnover.
- An underactive thyroid or a slowdown in thyroid hormone production may affect the ability of hair follicles and skin cells to grow.
- If you are living with an underactive thyroid, the skin may take longer to repair, restore, and replenish which will lead to the build-up of old skin cells. It may also take longer for these skin cells to shed.
#8 Mood Changes
Hypothyroidism may lead to mood changes such as depression and/or anxiety. An underactive thyroid is more likely to lead to feeling low in mood.
- It is critical for the brain to have the correct amount of thyroid hormones to manage mood, as can be seen by the high prevalence of anxiety in those who have hyperthyroidism and the incidence of depression in those who have hypothyroidism.
- Mood changes related to hypothyroidism are often misunderstood and there is little known about why hypothyroidism may cause mood changes. It is well documented that a large number of those who are living with hypothyroidism may experience mood changes.
If you suspect that you are living with hypothyroidism, you should consider getting screened to avoid thyroid damage, as well as the development of day-to-day symptoms becoming increasingly unpleasant. You can do this by receiving a thyroid function test from your doctor or you can opt to screen from home with LetsGetChecked Thyroid Testing options.
LetsGetChecked’s Thyroid Test will determine how your thyroid is performing by looking at thyroid-hormone levels including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), and free triiodothyronine (T3). TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and it controls the production of T3 and T4 from the Thyroid gland.
You should consider taking a test if:
- Have symptoms of an overactive thyroid
- Have symptoms of an underactive thyroid
- Have a family history of thyroid conditions
- Have an autoimmune condition such as coeliac disease or type 1 diabetes