The thyroid is a small gland located in the throat that plays a big role in maintaining human health. Among its many functions, it helps regulate the body’s ability to digest food and emits growth hormones. But when the thyroid is not functioning correctly, many health issues develop. People suffering from an underperforming thyroid suffer from hypothyroidism. People of any age can suffer from hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism differ slightly in adults than in children. Symptoms of hypothyroidism become worse over time, so anyone experiencing symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, such as patients suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, people develop first hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid overproduces hormones) and then plummets into hypothyroidism.Symptoms In AdultsThe first symptoms of hypothyroidism are often ignored because they are so minor. People feel tired more often than usual and can become slightly clumsy. But soon the symptoms of hypothyroidism in adults become worse. Common symptoms include:
- Chronic, painful constipation
- Puffing up of the face
- Sudden weight gain, even if eating the same amount of calories
- Feeling cold most of the time
- Aches, pains and stiffness in muscles and joints
- Voice changes and becomes harsher
- Becomes more forgetful
- Takes longer than usual to make a decision or perform a simple cognitive task
- Dry skin
- Skin becomes more pale than usual
- Brittle hair
- Fingernails that easily split or chip
- Rise in cholesterol levels
- Women have heavier periods than usual
- Feeling hopeless, sad or depressed most of the time.
Patients may develop the rare but lethal condition myexedema (advanced hypothyroidism) where they first suffer from the symptoms listed above, but also suffer additional symptoms like low blood pressure, lower than usual body temperature and coma.
Symptoms in Children
Hypothyroidism is generally considered more severe in children because underperforming thyroids can stunt the child’s physical and mental growth. If a baby is born without a thyroid gland or an inactive thyroid gland, symptoms start to develop within a few months of birth. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism in children and teenagers include:
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin
- Puffy face
- Swollen or enlarged tongue that can lead to choking and difficulties swallowing
- Drowsier than usual
- Muscles become weak or undefined
- Chronic constipation.
Newborns and very young children with hypothyroidism often suffer malnutrition die to their problems swallowing. This leads to problems with the liver, which causes the jaundice. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in children need to be treated immediately or the child may suffer permanent damage.
Teenagers may also suffer from these symptoms, although they may not first show yellowing skin or a swollen tongue. Most of their growing is done, but still some problems can show up, such as:
- Starts puberty unusually late
- Permanent teeth are slow to grow in
- Learning disabilities
- Bodily growth stops, resulting in a child who is much shorter than he or she should be.