Early Symptoms. Early symptoms of hypothyroidism are subtle and, in older people, can be easily mistaken for symptoms of stress or aging. They include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to cold
- Muscle and joint aches
- Weight gain, despite diminished appetite
- Dry skin
- Menstrual irregularities (either heavier-than-normal or lighter-than-normal bleeding)
- Milky discharge from the breasts (galactorrhea)
Later Symptoms. As free thyroxine levels fall over the following months, other symptoms may develop:
- Impaired mental activity, including problems with concentration and memory, particularly in the elderly.
- Muscle weakness, numbness, pain, and cramps. These symptoms can cause an unsteady gait. Muscle cramps are common, and carpal tunnel syndrome or symptoms similar to arthritis sometimes develop. In some cases, the arms and legs may feel numb.
- Numbness in the fingers.
- Hearing loss.
- Husky voice.
- Continuing weight gain and possible obesity, in spite of low appetite.
- Skin and hair changes. Skin becomes pale, rough, and dry. Patients may sweat less. Hair coarsens and even falls out. Nails become brittle.
- Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which in the soft palate in the throat collapses at intervals during sleep, thereby blocking the passage of air).