Symptoms of low thyroid function or hypothyroidism

In order to understand the many ways in which a thyroid function imbalance can manifest itself, it is important to know the basic nature of the roles played by thyroid hormones in the many systems that make up the human body.

Thyroid hormones act as controlling mechanisms for the rate at which various processes take place, such as:

  • the speed of chemical reactions
  • the rate of tissue growth
  • the metabolic rate
  • and the rate at which electrical impulses travel in the nerves and muscles

When one becomes hypothyroid, many of the affected bodily functions simply “slow down”.

Thyroid hormones act upon receptors in tissue all throughout the body; as a result a wide variety of symptoms can present. As the thyroid begins to fail:

  • The patient may experience chronic fatigue and listlessness as though running on an almost empty tank, a very common complaint.
  • Also common is the need to get warm as one may constantly feel like the surrounding air is chilly while everyone else around is comfortably warm.
  • Skin, hair and fingernails grow more slowly and become thickened, dry, and brittle.
  • Unusual hair loss may be noticed as well as loss/thinning of lateral (outside) part of the eyebrows.
  • The circulatory system is affected and the heart rate slows, but usually not to the degree of being noticeable unless the pulse is taken which; may be below 60 beats per minute.
  • Since intestinal activity also slows down, the patient may also become constipated.
  • With a slows down of the metabolism rate, weight loss becomes a true struggle regardless of sensible dieting and exercise: “no matter how much I exercise and eat healthy, I just do not lose the weight, in fact I am gaining weight and this simply doesn’t make sense”. This concern we hear over and over from patients with low thyroid function.
  • Muscles soreness may become a somewhat serious issue. Night time pain as well as leg cramps may contribute to insomnia. With such symptoms, it is possible to reach a diagnosis of “fibromyalgia”!

The nervous system may be affected in several ways. The brain is highly sensitive to thyroid hormone depletion since as mentioned previously; thyroid hormones also control the speed of electrical impulses traveling between the nerves. Some degree of memory loss, trouble concentrating (at times described as “foggy brain”) and depression maybe experienced.

Woman of reproductive age may experience problems with ovulation which may then lead to a halt in the production of eggs by the ovaries. Irregular menstruation and inability to conceive may also result. If pregnancy does occur, the chances of miscarriage are higher than for a woman with healthy thyroid. Low libido also is one other manifestation of low thyroid function

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