He said the classic symptoms of an underactive thyroid are decreased energy, hair loss, inappropriate weight gain, feeling cold, constipation, dry skin, heavy periods and difficulty concentrating. Some of the symptoms also overlap with a diagnosis of depression.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid, which are often mistaken for other conditions, include trouble concentrating, heat intolerance, frequent bowel movements, excessive sweating, increased appetite, unexpected weight loss, restlessness, a visible lump in the throat (goiter), nervousness and irregular menstrual periods, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Autoimmune thyroid disease is usually managed with a daily pill, according to Schmeltz. Hatipoglu said it's important to try to take this pill at the same time every day and to not eat for about 45 minutes after taking it. She said she tells her patients to take the pill before breakfast, or at night before bed if they have to get out the door quickly in the morning. "Take it when you know you can take it in the same way every day," she said.
Hatipoglu also pointed out that autoimmune thyroid disease can be episodic in the beginning.
"It's like a volcano erupting," she said. "It can happen on and off as the thyroid is being damaged by the immune system. One day it will be totally destroyed, but until you come to that point, it may come and go — for how long depends on the individual. For some it's months. For some it can be decades."
The Endocrine Society has more on thyroid diseases.
For more on thyroid disease and diabetes, read about one woman's story.
SOURCES: Betul Hatipoglu, M.D., endocrinologist, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio; Lowell Schmel
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