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Women's Health

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Hypothyroidism - Symptoms

Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually appear slowly over months or years. Symptoms and signs may include:

  • Coarse and thinning hair.
  • Dry skin.
  • Brittle nails.
  • A yellowish tint to the skin.
  • Slow body movements.
  • Cold skin.
  • Inability to tolerate cold.
  • Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak.
  • Memory problems, depression, or problems concentrating.
  • Constipation.
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.

Some less common symptoms may include:

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  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
  • Modest weight gain, often 10 lb (4.5 kg) or less.
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and facial puffiness, particularly around the eyes.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Muscle aches and cramps.

In general, how bad your symptoms are depends on your age, how long you have had hypothyroidism, and the seriousness of the condition. The symptoms may be so mild and happen so slowly that they go unnoticed for years.

Mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism often causes no symptoms or vague symptoms that may be attributed to aging, such as memory problems, dry skin, and fatigue.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism during and after pregnancy include fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, depression, and memory and concentration problems.

Because of the range of symptoms, hypothyroidism can be mistaken for depression, especially during and after pregnancy. In older people, it may be confused with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and other conditions that cause memory problems.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in infants, children, and teens

Although rare, hypothyroidism can occur in infants, children, and teens. In infants, symptoms of a goiter include a poor appetite and choking on food. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include dry, scaly skin. In children and teens, symptoms include behavior problems and changes in school performance. Children and teens may gain weight and yet have a slowed growth rate. Teens may have delayed puberty and look much younger than their age.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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