Symptoms and Related Conditions Common in Thyroid Disease - It's Not Only About Weight Gain and Depression!

Thanks to Oprah (who I'm  usually a HUGE fan of, but she didn't help the stigma) and people like Dr. Oz, society contributes thyroid disease largely to weight gain and depression, which is actually just one out of the dozens (probably about a hundred) of symptoms that one can experience, and it manifests itself differently in the individual.  In fact, my own mom questioned me when I told her that I suspected that I had thyroid disease. "But people normally gain weight with it," she said.  I didn't blame her for asking that question because that's probably what she had heard about the disease, even dealing it with it herself, weight-gain was the only symptom that stood out to her, because she actually gained over 80 pounds with Grave's disease. Weight gain is also possible with Grave's. Don't ever assume that your symptoms are the same as someone else's. One of my thyroid friends has completely different symptoms than her sister. There's so much more to this disease than weight gain, but I'll briefly discuss some of my own struggles with my weight and metabolism.

I am not usually very open about my own weight struggles because frankly, I'm not overweight and don't want to sound like another one of those girls who ask, "Do I look fat in these jeans?!?" I've always been petite. My mom's side of the family was blessed with curves and breasts, and my dad's side was blessed with fast metabolisms and long, lean, frames. I was much curvier in my early teenage years. In fact, I hit puberty before what seemed like anyone else did in my entire fourth grade class (yes, FOURTH grade). In middle school, my bra size was a 34 C. I was so self conscious about it that I begged my mom to buy me 'minimizer' bras. And, I never left the house without one on for several years. At around the age of 14, I lost all of what I call 'puberty fat' and evened out in my weight. I've stayed about the same physical size for the most part, give or take about 10-15 pounds that I had for a few years during my mid-twenties, which was likely due to undiagnosed Hashimoto's.
 I assure you that I do battle my own weight demons and deal with unsightly cellulite, which I did not have until my late 20's. The puffiness and bloating are daunting at times, especially when they're inconsistent.  I feel like I need to have two different sizes of clothes in my closet. Unlike so many other women, I have not gained a significant amount of weight, though my metabolism has made it's mark on my body, both internally and externally. Aaron thinks I'm crazy and I am not about to prove him wrong by revealing my troublesome spots to him in the brightest of sunlight (yes, I am self conscious about it!), so take my word when I tell you that I have the creepy bumpy, dents just sitting on places that I KNOW should never have cellulite, especially for someone who eats a perfect diet and exercises to her physical limit.  I've lost a lot of muscle in the last few years, and my body has morphed in to something that I'm not accustomed to seeing on my body. There's a difference between weight gain and fat cell accumulation. Some people are more genetically predisposed to gaining fat, which causes an increase in clothing size, and some of us have more fat accumulation in the form of cellulite. I'm currently the latter. I no longer make appearances in swimsuits! My body no longer depicts a healthy and lean look or feel. I may fluctuate about 5-10 pounds on a given day. It all begins when I eat (of course). Sometimes I feel like this disease makes me retain the Pacific ocean. Water retention is common in thyroid disease and it contributes to inconsistent numbers on the scale.  It's upsetting. I blame most of it on poor absorption and leaky gut, which I've been trying to heal for over a year now.
I guess you could call me a health nut and I strive to stay in shape. I majored in dietetics in college, though decided it was not the best route for me, mainly because of the restricted ability that I'd have in practicing Eastern and alternative theories. So, I switched to business, but my heart was always in the world of health and nutrition. Ironic, that I got sick, huh? It just goes to show how much our genetics play a roll in our lives.
I do not accept the typical aging excuse that doctors are so quick to give women, who complain about the sudden and unexpected body changes, especially when they exercise more than they did in their younger years. Lots of women (who either don't have thyroid disease or it is properly managed) work hard to stay fit well over the age of 30, and they are quite successful at it.  But, just because you haven't gained 20+ pounds doesn't mean that you don't have a thyroid problem.
So, we undoubtedly know that weight gain is a symptom of thyroid disease. Let's look at some other hallmark and even surprising symptoms of thyroid disease. Keep in mind that everyone will have their own signature symptoms, meaning that you may have a select few of the symptoms daily, and never experience any others, or you may have every last one, but the thing with autoimmune diseases is that there's always a roller coaster involved. Try 'journaling' your symptoms and pay attention to any patterns, such as time of the month, if they're waxing and waning (as this disease is know to do), or if they coincide with certain foods that you're eating.
Remember, Hashimoto's can cause periods of both hypo and hyper-thyroid episodes. Some symptoms sound contradictory, but you can experience symptoms from both sides of the spectrum, depending on whether or not you're hyper or hypo at the time.

Some Commonly Reported Symptoms of Thyroid Disease (Hashimoto's and Grave's- though there are many more symptoms!) 
Unusual and consistent fatigue (despite adequate sleep), sleepiness, falling asleep easily
Feeling unusually cold or hot, cold or clammy skin
Night Sweats
Swelling & puffiness- face, around the eyes, legs, etc.
Hair Loss and/or it's dry, coarse, or brittle,
Increased speed of hair and nail growth
Brain Fog, forgetfulness, memory loss, poor concentration, slowed thinking
Moodiness, emotional disturbances, crying easily, aggressiveness, irritability
Constipation and/or periods of diarrhea
Hoarseness, throat feels full, choking sensation
Plantar Fasciitis and painful feet
Dry, scaly, flaky, itchy skin, acne, and other skin conditions
Brittle, thin nails, ridges
Low blood pressure and high blood pressure
Rapid pulse or slowed pulse
Exercise Intolerance
Low libido
Poor vision, blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes
Hairloss of the eyebrows- particularly of the outer parts of the brows
Muscle cramps or joint pain
Sudden weight gain or weight loss
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mania, and other mental health changes
Painful, inconsistent, heavy periods,
Dizziness or vertigo
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations, Angina
Presence of goiter (NOT always present, as in my case)
Sensitivity to sounds
Sinus infections and/or an overall pressure in the sinuses
Food allergies, bloating, sensitivity to foods, alcohol intolerance

Some Conditions that Are Common with Thyroid Disease:
Diabetes (Type I and II) and Metabolic Syndrome
High cholesterol (low cholesterol can occur too)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (my mom actually had this)
Anemia (Iron deficiency)
Hemochromatosis (Excessive Iron)
Addison's Disease
Cushing's Disease
Adrenal Fatigue
Fibromyalgia (some experts believe this condition is directly related to thyroid disease)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
Celiac Disease
Gluten Intolerance
Other Autoimmune diseases are commonly found in thyroid patients, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Gallbladder disease
Post Partum Depression
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP)

In regards to the last condition, MVP, I was recently diagnosed with this heart condition. I will be discussing more about MVP in a future post.
Since thyroid disease is typically caused by a malfunctioning immune system, it often leaves patients more susceptible to contracting colds, viruses, and parasites. This was only the case for me when I worked in an office environment. I've rarely had colds in my lifetime, knock on wood. If you have Hashimoto's or Grave's disease, please don't take your doctor's advice if they tell you that you can safely receive a flu vaccination. A lot of thyroid experts recommend that patients do their own research on the controversy surrounding whether or not autoimmune patients should get vaccines, especially if they don't fall in to the 'high-risk' category. I personally decline flu shots.


“Regaining health is more difficult an objective then becoming ill. Becoming ill is a random act of ignorance and regaining health is an intentional effort in frustration.” 
― Richard Diaz


  1. I'm sure you've heard this a thousand times... but what's one more right? Your stories are mine too. I'm like you; petite, healthy, and physically strong and fit. So when my body changes against my will, I'm equally frustrated. I'm trying my hardest to not let Hashimoto's define who I am. It just seems an unfortunate part of my 'makeup'. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  2. Although my battle hasn't been nearly as difficult as yours, I can relate to so much of what you have discussed so far...the fatigue and brain fog, the heart issues, feeling so motivated inside but not understanding why you’re so “lazy” compared to others, the skin issues, being thin but having my body not look or feel right or toned anymore despite working out and eating well, reynaud’s, etc. etc. and then a hashimotos diagnosis. I’m only 28, and it's therapeutic to know I’m not the only one dealing with some of these issues! Thank you so much for your posts.

    I was lucky enough to have a gynecologist’s office of all places diagnose my hashimotos after routine new client blood work and was prescribed levothryoxine. But after telling my primary physician, I was shocked when she acted like she didn’t believe me or my diagnosis. She said my thyroid levels had been fine the last time they had checked (she didn’t check antibody levels) and she even disagreed about checking for a gluten sensitivity or any food allergies. I’m currently on the hunt for a more informed doctor.

    You said you were at one time taking adderall. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed adderall xr, but I’m not sure how much of my symptoms are actually tied to my hashimotos. Have you continued taking adderall? If not, have you found that properly treating your thyroid issues has helped with ADHD related symptoms? Sorry for the extremely long comment :)

  3. My nine year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's. She was always tired and cold. Now, trying to find the right medication has been extremely difficult. At times, she simply cries for no reason. Thank you for the blog!