Essentially a disorder of the endocrine system, hypothyroidism is a condition wherein the thyroid gland of the human body is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).
Since the thyroid hormones are essential for a large number of bodily functions (including increase and/or maintenance of the body’s basal metabolic rate), hypothyroidism induces a host of problematic symptoms in the body of the patient.
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These symptoms of hypothyroidism are more commonly observed in women as compared to men.
Also, hypothyroidism symptoms in adults differ from the symptoms in infants and/or children.
Hypothyroidism is caused due to a variety of reasons, ranging from radiation therapy to autoimmune diseases. .
However, there are several symptoms of hypothyroidism that are relatively less popular and/or easily identifiable, including mental illnesses like depression, as well as constipation.
Here are 5 of the many lesser known symptoms of hypothyroidism:
Hypothyroidism is characterized by a significant decline in the levels of thyroid hormones in the body of the patient.
The lack of thyroid hormones causes the brain functioning to slow down, which may also induce a sort of fugue state in certain severe cases.
Lack of thyroid hormones makes it difficult for the brain to focus, which leads to clinical depression.
Depression is characterized by loss of interest in daily activities, perpetual feelings of sadness, anger and/or frustration (along with other negative emotions), which causes disruptions in the normal day-to-day life of the person.
For some people, depression may also induce feelings of irritability, most commonly observed in adolescents and pregnant women.
There is no blood test that can detect the presence of depression, and the only way to diagnose the condition is to check for abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones in the body of the patient and perform clinical correlation.
2. Dry Skin and Hair Loss:
Thyroid hormones work in synergy with several growth hormones of the body.
This combined action of both categories of hormones ensures regular cell generation as well as maintenance of already existing cells.
This phenomenon is responsible for providing elasticity and moisture to our skin.
However, when a person suffers from hypothyroidism, the depleted levels of thyroid hormones in their body limit the functionality of the growth hormones as well.
These leads to reduced energy levels, hair loss as well as dry skin that can be considered as symptoms of hypothyroidism.
In case your hair starts falling more than usual without any other explanation, it might be a good thing to get blood tests to rule out hypothyroidism.
Dry, flaky skin is also a symptom of hypothyroidism, but it is also a result of many other conditions (including cold weather), it is not as easily identified.
3. Weight fluctuations:
The body weight of a person may increase or decrease due to a variety of reasons. In women, bloating and weight gain are common during certain periods of the menstrual cycle.
In men, exercise and/or diseases like diabetes contribute to weight fluctuations. However, unexplained weight gain or weight loss are tell-tale symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Since thyroid hormones are critical to maintaining an optimal basal metabolic rate (BMR) in the human body, the lack of thyroid hormones in hypothyroidism can cause serious weight-related complications.
Not only does the body gain unnecessary weight, the patient also experiences difficulty in losing the extra weight.
At the other end of the spectrum, hypothyroidism symptoms in men and women also include the following:
- Weight loss, that may result in anorexia in some severe cases.
- Abdominal fluid accumulation, known as ascites. It causes bloating by fluid retention in the abdomen of the patient.
- Metabolic syndrome: it is a cluster of health conditions like high blood pressure, excess body fat and the like, that increase the patient’s risk of a heart stroke.
- Heightened or diminished appetite are also common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- General obesity
Since most of the above-mentioned symptoms can be attributed to several other conditions, it is not easily correlated to being a symptom of hypothyroidism.
Since the thyroid hormones released by the thyroid gland are responsible for maintaining the metabolic rate of the body, it is not uncommon that a person with an underactive thyroid gland suffers from chronic constipation.
However, constipation is a common problem in the elderly patients, and hence it is not generally considered primarily as a symptom.
The lack of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones makes proper digestion difficult, especially the digestion of foods containing high amounts of protein.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the food digestion and waste elimination process are significantly slowed down, resulting in the uncomfortable state of constipation.
This is because depletion of thyroid hormones in the body causes a significant decrease in the motor activity of the digestive system, causing gastrointestinal dysfunction.
In such cases, patients are advised to increase water intake, take high-fiber food items, and so on.
5. Disturbed Homeostasis:
The thyroid gland is responsible for maintaining an optimal body temperature that facilitates all bodily functions. An underactive thyroid gland can lead to disturbed homeostasis, which may cause the following symptoms:
- Intolerance to cold or hot environments
- Night sweats
- Internal shivering, extreme perspiration for no reason at all
- Little perspiration
- Low basal body temperature, below 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit
- Clammy palms
- Cold hands and feet (more commonly observed in children and infants as a symptom of hypothyroidism)
1] Is susceptibility to infections a symptom of hypothyroidism?
Yes, recurrent or frequent infections can be considered as a symptom of hypothyroidism.
2] What are diminished reflexes?
Diminished reflexes are characterized by a person’s inability to react to stimuli at a normal rate. It can be a possible symptom of hypothyroidism.
3] Can hypothyroidism cause disturbances in the menstrual cycle of women?
Yes, hypothyroidism symptoms in women include irregular menstrual cycles. However, it may also be due to other reasons, such as stress, pregnancy and so on.