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Thyroid Disease Symptoms -- Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

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Updated May 29, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Fatigue, depression, anxiety, and changes in weight are just a few common thyroid symptoms.

Fatigue, depression, anxiety, and changes in weight are just a few common thyroid symptoms.

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It sometimes seems that the symptoms of a thyroid problem -- whether underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism) -- can be as hard to pin down as the diagnosis itself. Open any medical reference or check out any web site, and you might see very different lists of the symptoms supposedly pointing to thyroid conditions.

In my case, after I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I started developing a variety of symptoms they didn't mention in the doctor's office. The doctor initially described hypothyroidism as something can make you tired and gain weight. While problematic, these were understandable symptoms. Then my hair fell out. And my periods started coming more frequently, and more heavily. And my skin started flaking. The doctors and articles didn't mention many of these less common symptoms of hypothyroidism I started to experience. So I read more, and I surfed the web. And I talked to other thyroid patients. And I found out that things like hair falling out, and weird menstrual periods, trouble catching my breath, and feeling depressed were all common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

For me, despite the fact that these were caused by my thyroid, I felt that knowing was better than not knowing! I'd rather realize that my thyroid problem still needs some further treatment than worry in the middle of the night that something awful is happening to my body!

Among reputable medical sources, it seems that there is some medical agreement that the following are the basic symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism...

Key Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (An underactive thyroid)

fatigue, exhaustion
feeling run down and sluggish
depression, moodiness
difficulty concentrating, brain fog
unexplained or excessive weight gain
dry, coarse and/or itchy skin
dry, coarse and/or thinning hair
feeling cold, especially in the extremities
constipation
muscle cramps
increased menstrual flow
more frequent periods
infertility/miscarriage
low blood pressure
frequent infections
bloating/puffiness in hands, feet, eye area, face

Key Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (An overactive thyroid)

nervousness
irritability
increased perspiration
thinning of your skin
fine brittle hair
muscular weakness especially involving the upper arms and thighs
shaky hands
panic disorder
insomnia
racing heart
more frequent bowel movements
weight loss despite a good appetite
lighter flow, less frequent menstrual periods

These symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg. There are comprehensive lists of detailed symptosm featured here at the site.

Hypothyroidism/Underactive Thyroid

With hypothyroidism, there are a number of various symptoms and risk factors that should be looked at in evaluating whether or not you are hypothyroid. Start by reviewing the "Hypothyroidism Risks/Symptoms Checklist", a detailed, comprehensive checklist of hypothyroidism symptoms that you can review and bring to your doctor to aid in getting a proper diagnosis.

In addition, take my quiz: Could You Be Hypothyroid?, which offers an interactive assessment of your risk factors and symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism/Overactive Thyroid

With hyperthyroidism, you should look at the additional symptoms and information regarding being hyperthyroid. The Graves' Disease / Hyperthyroidism Risks and Symptoms Checklist offers a detailed, comprehensive checklist of hyperthyroidism symptoms that you can review and bring to your doctor to aid in getting a proper diagnosis.

In addition, my quiz: Could You Be Hyperthyroid helps you interactively rate risk factors and symptoms for an overactive thyroid gland.

Your Next Step for Information

For more information, see: Thyroid Disease 101: Basic Information on Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Nodules, Goiter, and Thyroid Cancer. This article offers an overview of information about thyroid disease, including diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, nodules, goiter, and thyroid cancer.

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