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8 Surprising Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis


Most people probably don’t often think about their thyroid. However, this butterfly-shaped gland, positioned in the front of the neck, is very important for a healthy metabolism and hormones which both affect many processes throughout your body and contribute to overall health.


The problem with thyroid issues is that the accompanying symptoms can be subtle enough to not warrant further investigation. This is one reason why it can take a long time for people to be diagnosed with an under-active thyroid or Hashimoto’s Disease, the autoimmune condition that leads to an under-active thyroid.


An obvious sign of compromised thyroid health is an enlarged thyroid aka "goiter." However, keep reading for a list of symptoms that many of us casually dismiss but may warrant a visit to your doctor for a thyroid check.


1. Joint pain and stiffness

This can happen suddenly or gradually. If you have never experienced joint pain or stiffness it is a very unique sensation, different than a pulled muscle or a strain injury. Some have described the sensation as feeling that your extremities will break off if moved too far or too suddenly. People with severe joint pain and inflammation are often first diagnosed with arthritis but this may also be a sign of hypothyroidism and should be monitored or possibly investigated further.


2. Increased sensitivity to cold

Have you noticed that it takes longer to remove your coat in the morning when you get to the office? Do you find yourself almost violently shivering at times...even with a warm breeze? You might be thinking, someone messed the thermostat or that it's just an unusually harsh winter. However, if this cold sensitivity is not typical for you, you might be experiencing you body's inability to regulate your temperature. This is common with those who have an under-active thyroid because heat is generated as a byproduct of metabolism in the body. According to Rejuvagen Strategic Functional Medicine Center, “If there is less than optimal thyroid hormone to drive basal metabolism of the body there is less heat driven by obligatory thermogenesis causing your core body temperature to be lower” (Reguvagen).


3. Constipation

Hypothyroidism can slow down many bodily processes including digestion. This can cause constipation. If you notice you are more frequently constipated without a good reason such as dehydration or lack of exercise, your thyroid could be to blame. (Verywellhealth.com).


4. Enlargement of the tongue

Have you noticed yourself biting your tongue more often? When you are speaking or reading aloud to yourself do you find yourself trying to pull your tongue back into your mouth to avoid stumbling over it as you speak? This may be a sign of a slightly enlarged tongue. Keep in mind that allergic reactions can also cause an enlarged or swollen tongue so if you are experiencing this sensation along with a fuzzy or numb feeling seek immediate medical attention. An enlarged tongue due to hypothyroidism may be somewhat sore but essentially will result in a somewhat heavy mouth sensation. You may also notice something a "scalloped tongue," a condition that results from the pressing of the teeth on the sides of the tongue, causing small indentations or "scallops."


5. Thinning of the hair

Some people may assume that aging is the cause of thinning hair or that perhaps changing shampoo is the answer. However, thinning hair can also be a sign of a malfunctioning thyroid. The disruption of T3 and T4 hormone can affect hair production at the root to be reduced. If the thyroid is underproducing these hormones it can cause reduced hair growth not only on the scalp but eyebrows and eyelashes as well.



6. Hoarseness

If you haven’t been sick yet still cannot seem to clear your throat and get rid of that raspy a voice, you may have a thyroid problem. Since the thyroid is so close to the vocal cords and throat, even a slight enlargement of the thyroid can affect the tone of your voice. Some people attribute this to the cold air, or allergies. However, if it persists unexplained, you should consider getting your thyroid checked.


7. Dry Skin or Itchy Scalp

Have you noticed an extra dry scalp with no changes to your hair care routine? Does it seem like your hands are always dry or that your face cannot seem to get enough of that expensive moisturizer? Your skin may be trying to tell you something. Dry skin is another issue we often try to "treat" with dozens of creams or oils, but neglect to recognize that dry skin can be an outward manifestation of an internal problem such as a thyroid condition.

8. Loss of libido

Loss of libido can be an issue for many couples but is often not addressed. It can be attributed to aging, stress, loss of interest, the end of the honeymoon stage, etc. However, if you notice that there is an emotional and mental desire but your body does not seem to match what your mind wants, you may want to have your thyroid checked to see if it is wreaking havoc with your hormones. If reduced libido is uncharacteristic for your body or relationship it might be improved by bringing your thyroid function up to par.


These are just a few of the surprising symptoms that accompany hypothyroidism or underlying Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Many other conditions are also associated with these symptoms which is why many cases of hypothyroidism do not get diagnosed for years. Always be aware of your body. Take note of any new symptoms and try to discern what they might be trying to tell you about what is going on inside your body.


References:

Cindy. (2020, January 2). Hypothyroidism and cold intolerance. Rejuvagen Strategic Functional Medicine. https://rejuvagencenter.com/hypothyroidism-and-cold-intolerance/

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid). MayoClinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284

Shomon, M. (2020, July 21). Constipation and hypothyroidism. VeryWellHealth.com. https://www.verywellhealth.com/constipation-and-hypothyroidism-3233144

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