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How to identify symptoms of an underactive thyroid

Updated April 17, 2017

An underactive thyroid is often called hypothyroidism. It is a condition of the thyroid gland, located in the throat, that causes it to produce less hormones than it's supposed to. This small, butterfly-shaped gland is responsible for most of the chemical reactions with the cells and cell structures found in the human body. Such cells produce energy (metabolism) to adequately perform their myriad of functions. An underactive thyroid may cause infertility, a higher risk of infections as well as heart disease. Affecting both men and women, underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism is more common among women than men. An underactive thyroid affects the thyroid as well as the endocrine system, the body system responsible for all hormone functions and reactions. Learning to identify symptoms of underactive thyroid may help to prevent complications and encourage individuals to lead normal, productive lives with the use of thyroid treatments.

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  1. Pay attention to sensations of cold in the hands and feet that may occur in all types of weather. The sensations may be mild or severe and may affect either the hands, the feet, or both.

  2. Watch for signs of weight gain, though loss of appetite is experienced. Erratic eating habits may also lead to constipation, loss of energy and a feeling of overall fatigue.

  3. Be alert for any signs of blurred vision or hearing loss. Such signs may occur slowly over time or rather suddenly, which should prompt most people to visit his or her physician.

  4. Listen to your body. Do your muscles hurt for no reason? Have you noticed a change in your menstrual cycle or sex drive? Have you noted any change in the sound of your own voice? These are many common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  5. Pay attention to any emotional changes or mood swings that can't be explained. Many individuals suffering from an underactive thyroid experience difficulty sleeping, which leads to frayed or short tempers.

  6. Tip

    Blood tests will be performed for thyroid hormones as well as TSH (thyroid-stimulating) hormone levels in the blood. With treatment, the main symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland will ease. Medications may be prescribed, which should be taken according to your doctor's direction.

    Treatment options include restoring thyroid blood levels to normal with synthetic thyroid hormones. Of course, treatment options will vary depending on symptoms and other factors and blood test results.


    Never attempt to self-diagnose symptoms. If you experience two or more symptoms associated with hypothyroidism, call your doctor. If you experience any seizures or if you feel you or a loved one might be suffering from hypothyroidism, seek help from a professional medical care provider right away..

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About the Author

Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor. She has written professionally for more than seven years. Stern regularly provides content for health-related and elder-care websites and has an associate and specialized business degree in health information management and technology.

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