Symptoms and Signs of Hypothyroidism

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce or Low thyroid hormone levels decrease metabolism, and increase the risk of other health issues such as heart disease and pregnancy problems. Common causes of hypothyroidism in adults include autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), subacute thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland after a viral disease or after a pregnancy), previous thyroid therapy, drug-induced hypothyroidism, pituitary and hypothalamic disease, and iodine deficiency.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include 

  • fatigue,
  • weakness, 
  • cold intolerance,
  • muscle aches and cramps, 
  • constipation,
  • weight gain or difficulty losing weight,
  • poor appetite, 
  • goiter (enlarged thyroid gland),
  • dry and rough skin,
  • coarse hair or hair loss,
  • eye and face swelling,
  • deeper and/or hoarse voice,
  • enlarged tongue,
  • irregular or heavy menstrual periods, 
  • depression,
  • memory loss,
  • slowed thinking and mental activity, or
  • increased blood cholesterol levels.

What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?

The treatment for hypothyroidism is daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone, levothyroxine. The hormone can, with the correct dosage determined by initial blood level measurements, reverse the symptoms of the disease.

  • The disease is not cured by the treatment; the person will likely require hormone (oral pills) for life with blood level checks about every 6 to 12 months.
  • Patients should discuss the use of iron and calcium supplements and antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide as these and soy products may inhibit levothyroxine absorption.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.