Hypothyroidism side effects and symptoms are many and varied. The symptoms are common across a host of other disorders so may not immediately be associated with hypothyroidism. Additionally they invariably start out mild and are easily overlooked. However, by being vigilant about your health and talking to your doctor about any noticeable changes, you can successfully arrest hypothyroidism in its early stages for an excellent long term prognosis.
Without proper treatment however there are many serious complications that can develop with hypothyroidism. But, in order to treat the disease correctly it is essential to be properly diagnosed. This is the only way the exact level of the disease can be determined and appropriate treatment prescribed.
Hypothyroidism side effects vary across age groups.
Some of the serious hypothyroidism side effects are as follows:
Myxedema Coma: this is the ultimate outcome of ignoring hypothyroidism side effects! Symptoms of this extreme but fortunately rare form of hypothyroidism are:
- Hypothermia or sudden drops in body temperature
- Inability to regulate inner core temperature
- Lung problems
- Drop in pulse rate and low heartbeat ie bradycardia
- Losing consciousness
- Fluid retention
- Heat and cold intolerance
Interesting Questions about Thyroid:
Most patients with hypothyroidism have some degree of associated depression, ranging from mild to severe. 10% – 15% of the patients with a diagnosis of depression may have thyroid hormone deficiency. Patients with depression should be tested to determine if they have a thyroid disorder.
- Several research studies have been done and continue to be done on the association between depression and thyroid disease. Although all forms of depression, including bipolar disorders like manic depression, can be found in either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, depression is more often associated with hypothyroidism. Many patients with hypothyroidism have some degree of associated depression, ranging from mild to severe.
- If a large population of depressed patients was screened, a significant percentage, perhaps 10% – 15%, would be found to have thyroid hormone deficiency. For this reason, patients with a diagnosis of depression should be tested to determine if they have too little thyroid hormone. If they do, thyroid medication should be prescribed.
- Thyroid hormone is sometimes prescribed for depressed patients with normal thyroid function because it magnifies the beneficial effects of certain antidepressants.
- Lithium, a commonly prescribed drug for certain types of depression, has profound effects on the size and function of the thyroid gland. Patients taking lithium need periodic examinations of their thyroid gland and thyroid function.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland just below the Adam’s apple. This gland plays a very important role in controlling the body’s metabolism, that is, how the body functions. It does this by producing thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), chemicals that travel through the blood to every part of the body. Thyroid hormones tell the body how fast to work and use energy.
The thyroid gland works like an air conditioner. If there are enough thyroid hormones in the blood, the gland stops making the hormones (just as an air conditioner cycles off when there is enough cool air in a house). When the body needs more thyroid hormones, the gland starts producing again.
About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Many are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. No age, economic group, race, or sex is immune to thyroid disease.
The thyroid gland might produce too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), making the body use energy faster than it should, or too little hormone (hypothyroidism), making the body use energy slower than it should. The gland may also become inflamed (thyroiditis) or enlarged (goiter), or develop one or more lumps (nodules).
|Fact:||Two of the most common thyroid diseases, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, are autoimmune diseases and may run in families.|
|Fact:||Hypothyroidism is 10 times more common in women than in men.|
|Fact:||One out of five women over the age of 75 has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common cause of hypothyroidism.|
|Fact:||Thyroid dysfunction complicates 5%-9% of all pregnancies.|
|Fact:||About 15,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are reported each year.|
|Fact:||One out of every 4,000 infants is born without a working thyroid gland.|
Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis can cause either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or one followed by the other. It can also cause a goiter, an abnormal swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid. It affects about 12 million people in the United States.
Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. When patients with thyroiditis have any symptoms, they are usually the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It is also common to have an enlarged thyroid that may shrink over time.
The type of thyroiditis seen most often is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a painless disease of the immune system that runs in families. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects about 5% of the adult population, increasing particularly in women as they age.
Another form of thyroiditis affects women of childbearing age. Postpartum thyroiditis occurs in 5%-9% of women soon after giving birth and is usually a temporary condition.
Viral and bacterial infections can also cause thyroiditis.
Suppurative Thyroiditis (AIT): This is an acute infectious form of thyroiditis that can be fatal if left untreated. We’ve listed it as one of the hypothyroidism side effects because it is more common in patients with either Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer.
Fortunately it is rare for the thyroid to become infected due to its high iodine levels. Iodine of course is a natural antiseptic and helps destroy pathogens in the thyroid before they can become a problem. However there are some types of bacterium that have the potential to cause AIT, notably:
- several strains of Staphylococcus (aureus/epidermidis), Streptococcus (pyogenes/pneumoniae). More common in children
- Eikenella corrodens, Enterobacteriaceae, Haemophilus influenza, Klebsiella, Streptococcus viridans
Common symptoms of AIT include:
- Strong pain and swelling in the thyroid gland making it difficult to swallow
More information about hypothyroidism side effects can be found online. Most countries have a thyroid association or foundation where you can get a huge amount of information. As always, if you suspect you could be suffering from hypothyroidism, seek medical attention.