Signs of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can cause many different symptoms, but not all of these symptoms will be experienced by every patient who has the condition. Many signs of hypothyroidism can be very subtle and the effects of hypothyroidism and their impact on an individual can be very different. Some people do not experience any symptoms despite having mildly abnormal levels of thyroid hormones in their systems. The symptoms that are caused by hypothyroidism are non-specific. This means that they can also occur as a result of different medical conditions and some patients discount them merely as signs of the ageing process. It can therefore be difficult to diagnose hypothyroidism.

Most of the signs of hypothyroidism are related to the slowing of the metabolic rate that occurs as a result of this condition. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the rate of the metabolism. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is under active and does not produce enough of these hormones. This leads to the metabolism being slower than normal.

Common signs of hypothyroidism include fatigue and excessive sleepiness. The skin and hair can become dry, and the patient may suffer from constipation. They can become sensitive to the cold. Hypothyroidism may cause aches, pains and muscle cramps, and it can cause swelling in the legs. The level of cholesterol in the blood can be elevated. It may become difficult to concentrate, and the patient may experience depression.

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism usually worsen gradually over time. If the condition remains untreated, it is progressive and it can lead to complications that may be life-threatening.

As the condition becomes more severe, additional signs and symptoms may appear. The area around the eyes may become puffy and swollen. There can be a drop in body temperature and a slowing of the heart rate. In the most severe cases, the patient can even experience heart failure. The heart can become enlarged and the space around the lungs can fill with fluid. If the patient still does not receive any treatment, then they can eventually fall into a myxedema coma. This can be life-threatening. If a person who has hypothyroidism falls into such a coma, they must be immediately hospitalized and treated with an injection of thyroid hormones. Myxedema comas in patients who have hypothyroidism can be triggered by surgery, injuries, serious illnesses and stress.

As long as hypothyroidism is diagnosed and treated, serious complications can be avoided. Treatment for this condition involves taking daily doses of synthetic thyroid hormones. This is generally very successful. The signs of hypothyroidism should disappear and the dangerous complications should be avoided.


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