Symptoms and Signs

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Let your doctor know if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms of thyroid disease.


  • Nervousness, irritability, or mood changes
  • Decreased exercise tolerance, weakness, and tiredness
  • Hand tremors, a rapid, pounding, and/or irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath (even when resting)
  • Intolerance of warm temperatures, excessive sweating, and warm, flushed skin that may be itchy
  • Soft stools and an increased number of stools
  • Fine, brittle hair
  • Appetite and weight changes, particularly weight loss despite an increased appetite (Weight gain can also occur.)
  • Irregular or absent menstrual flow in women
  • Worsening of blood glucose control and increased insulin requirements


In adults, hypothyroidism usually develops slowly. Symptoms may take months or years before they are noticed, and they are often attributed to aging.

  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • Dry skin, brittle nails, and dry, coarse hair or hair loss
  • Feeling weak, sluggish, or drowsy
  • Memory problems, depression, or difficulty concentrating
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods in women
  • Swelling in the throat area caused by an enlarged thyroid
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of arms, hands, legs, and feet and facial puffiness, particularly around the eyes
  • Muscle aches and cramps

Hypothyroidism in children before age three can lead to mental retardation. Early symptoms may include the following:

  • Poor appetite and choking while nursing
  • Failure to gain weight and grow
  • Constipation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • A hoarse cry
  • Sluggishness
  • Protruding abdomen In young children, hypothyroidism affects physical development. In older children, it can cause behavioral changes, weight changes, poor school performance, slow physical development, and delayed sexual development.

Originally Published June 19, 2009

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