Hypothyroidism is the medical term for a sluggish thyroid. It can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Severe fatigue, loss of energy
  • Weight gain, difficulty losing weight
  • Depression and depressed mood
  • Joint and muscle pain, headaches
  • Dry skin, brittle nails
  • Brittle hair, itchy scalp, hair loss
  • Irregular periods, PMS symptoms
  • Breast milk formation
  • Calcium metabolism difficulties
  • Difficulty tolerating cold and lower body temperature
  • Constipation
  • Sleeping more than average
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Puffiness in face and extremities
  • Hoarseness
  • Bruising/clotting problems
  • Elevated levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and heightened risk of heart disease
  • Allergies that suddenly appear or get worse
  • Persistent cold sores, boils, or breakouts
  • Tingling sensation in wrists and hands that mimics carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Memory loss, fuzzy thinking, difficulty following conversation or train of thought
  • Slowness or slurring of speech

Subclinical hypothyroidism may present itself with mild versions of these hypothyroid symptoms, or often just fatigue or depression. Hypothyroidism often occurs along with insulin resistance, and these two conditions share some similar symptoms.

In some cases, hypothyroidism leads to a goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid sufficient to be externally visible. The gland enlarges to try to compensate for its sluggish production. Goiters can also result from an overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism. In this case, the gland enlarges in response to attacks by antibodies, which are triggered by the thyroid’s overproduction.

It’s important to note that without treatment or relief of the underlying causes of hypothyroidism, the symptoms will generally worsen over time, eventually resulting in permanent damage.

In the most extreme cases, such as Hashimoto’s disease, the body forms antibodies to its own thyroid gland, creating permanently low thyroid function.

For more information, read our numerous articles on this topic in the Thyroid Health section of our Health Library.