Thyroid Hypothyroidism

Thyroid - Hypothyroidism

by Rashmi Gulati, MD

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Rashmi Gulati Head Shot

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, can vary widely. By definition, a symptom is a sensation you might experience that could be indicative of a health problem. A sign is a physiological or anatomical change that you or a physician might observe that could signify the presence of a health problem.

The thyroid is responsible for the production of hormones that play a central role in metabolism and energy production. If thyroid function is low, the most notable result can be inadequate energy, affecting virtually any or every system in the body. The symptoms experienced depend on many factors influencing individual response. Low thyroid function can impair nervous system function, leaving one feeling tired, depressed, and likely to suffer brain fog and other unexplained symptoms. A low thyroid may be manifested in the gastrointestinal system as constipation, cramps, poor digestion, and at times reflux. Low energy production in the muscles can cause muscle pain and weakness.

Because of the generalized nature of many of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, and significant overlap with other conditions, mild thyroid imbalance may be particularly difficult to identify. Unless an individual falls into a higher risk category or a thyroid disorder is suspected for some other reason, thyroid function tests may be delayed until symptoms worsen or a pronounced change in the gland itself is noted.

As a result, many people in the early stages of thyroid dysfunction or with ill-defined thyroid problems, such as subclinical hypothyroidism, may remain untreated longer than necessary, when there may be health benefit to be gained from earlier intervention to optimize thyroid function.

Hashimotos thyroiditis is a disease. It s the most common cause of hypothyroidism, which is the condition. Genetics are strongly implicated as a cause of Hashimoto's disease in the United States.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

If so, there is a possibility that you have a hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is quite common, with an estimated prevalence in the US population of about 5 out of 100 people being affected by the disorder.

Many people are mistakenly diagnosed with depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or other problems with overlapping symptoms, when what they have is low thyroid function, missed by routine thyroid tests.

Of note is that as many as 1 in 5 women over the age of 60 may have subclinical hypothyroidism. By definition, subclinical hypothyroidism is when an individual’s serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels fall outside the reference range but levels of free thyroxine (FT4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are within the reference range. While the full implications of this relatively common finding remain poorly understood, there are a number of simple, natural measures you can take to improve thyroid functioning and ameliorate your symptoms.


Citations and Further Reading:

Ladenson, P. 2005. Thyroid. In D. Dale & D. Federman, eds., ACP Medicine. NY: WebMD.

Surks, M., et al. 2004. Subclinical thyroid disease: Scientific review and guidelines for diagnosis and management. JAMA, 291 (2), 228–238.


Date of Publication: 09/05/2005
Article Last Updated: 01/23/2014

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