Thyroid Disease Symptoms and Signs

Thyroid Disease Symptoms and Signs

Medical Author:

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler’s educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medical Editor:

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Thyroid disease is a common problem that can cause symptoms because of over-
or under-function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an essential organ
for producing thyroid hormones, which maintain body metabolism. The thyroid
gland is located in the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple. Thyroid
disease can also sometimes lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck,
which can cause symptoms that are directly related to the increase in size of
the organ (such as difficulty swallowing and discomfort in front of the neck).

Just as the types of thyroid conditions can vary, so can the symptoms of
thyroid problems. Here, we have listed ten common symptoms of thyroid disease:

  1. Nervousness and tremor:
    These symptoms, along with agitation, can signal
    an overfunction of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
  2. Mental fogginess and poor concentration: Mental functioning can be
    affected in both hyperthyroidism (elevated levels of thyroid hormone) and
    hypothyroidism (too low levels of thyroid hormones). While sluggishness and
    depressed mood are often associated with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism can
    also lead to a reduced capacity for concentration.
  3. Menstrual changes: Hypothyroidism is sometimes associated with
    or prolonged menstrual bleeding
    , while hyperthyroidism can be characterized by
    scanty or reduced menstrual flow.
  4. Feeling bloated: Fluid retention is often a sign of an underactive thyroid
  5. Racing heartbeat: An increased heart rate (tachycardia) and
    can be symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
  6. Aches and pains: Muscle aches and pain can accompany different types of
    thyroid problems.
  7. Weight gain: A modest amount of
    weight gain often accompanies conditions
    in which thyroid gland activity is lower than normal.
  8. High cholesterol levels: An
    increase in blood cholesterol levels can occur
    in individuals with hypothyroidism.
  9. Heat intolerance: People with an overactive thyroid gland often complain
    of intolerance to higher temperatures.
  10. Feeling cold: Conversely, those with an underfunctioning thyroid may feel
    constantly cold.

It is important to remember that none of these symptoms is absolutely
specific for thyroid disease. All of them may be caused by a number of different
conditions and normal states. Your health care professional can order laboratory
tests to evaluate the function of your thyroid gland if you have troubling

REFERENCE: Thyroid disease.

Last Editorial Review: 8/8/2013

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