16 Signs You Might Be Hypothyroid & 10 Tips To Help

16 Signs You Might Be Hypothyroid & 10 Tips To Help

Functional medicine physician Dr. Jill Carnahan shares the top 16 symptoms of hypothyroid and 10 tips to help. It’s a pleasure to include Jill at Hypothyroid Mom.

Written by Jill C. Carnahan, MD, ABFM, ABIHM, IFMCP

Your thyroid plays a part in nearly every metabolic process and when the thyroid isn’t working you won’t feel well! This small gland has an average weight of 16.4 grams in the adult. Shaped like a butterfly, it lies low on the front of the neck and below your Adam’s apple and in front of the windpipe. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t even feel it.

The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4, but there are others, including T3 and even lesser known T1 and T2. It requires adequate selenium, iodine, zinc, B vitamins and antioxidants for optimal function. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development. Unfortunately, the thyroid gland is uniquely sensitive to drugs and environmental chemicals which may affect proper function.

More than 10 percent of the general population in the United States, and 20 percent of women over the age of 60, have subclinical hypothyroidism. But only a small percentage of these people are being treated. It is important to ask your doctor to check you thyroid function if you feel that you are having symptoms.

Often, at first, you barely notice the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and weight gain. You might simply attribute them to getting older. But as your metabolism continues to slow, you may develop more obvious signs and symptoms.

Top 16 symptoms of hypothyroid

  1. Fatigue
  2. Increased sensitivity to cold
  3. Constipation
  4. Dry skin
  5. Unexplained weight gain
  6. Puffy face
  7. Hoarseness
  8. Muscle weakness
  9. Elevated blood cholesterol level
  10. Muscle aches and pain
  11. Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  12. Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  13. Thinning hair
  14. Slower heart rate
  15. Depressed mood
  16. Impaired memory

Checklist of symptoms that may indicate you are hypothyroid

____ My facial skin looks or feels thinner
____ My muscles feel weak, particularly the upper arms and thighs
____ I am having difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
____ I feel fatigued, exhausted all the time

____ I frequently require more than 8 hours of sleep at night
____ I feel better if I am able to take an afternoon nap every day
____ I am unable to tolerate exercise
____ I have less stamina or energy than others
____ My hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out
____ My skin is coarse, dry, scaly, thin
____ My eyebrows are thinning, especially the outer 1/3
____ I frequently struggle with constipation or hard stools
____ I am always colder than others around me
____ I typically wear a sweater, even in the summer
____ I am having more breakouts or acne
____ I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
____ I experience numbness or tingling in my hands & fingers
____ I am having irregular periods (women)
____ I am having trouble maintaining erection (men)
____ I am having trouble conceiving a baby
____ I have had one or more miscarriages
____ I feel depressed most of the time
____ I feel restless, or anxious
____ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
____ My moods change easily
____ I have difficulty concentrating or focusing
____ I have more feelings of sadness
____ I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities
____ I’m more forgetful lately
____ My hair is falling out
____ I can’t seem to remember things
____ I have no sex drive
____ I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer
____ My eyes feel gritty and dry
____ My eyes feel sensitive to light
____ I am having difficulty swallowing or feeling a lump in my throat
____ I have a hoarse or gravely voice
____ I have tinnitus (ringing in ears)
____ I feel some lightheadedness or dizziness
____ I have severe menstrual cramps

Other conditions that may be associated with thyroid dysfunction

  • Infertility or frequent miscarriage
  • Acne
  • High cholesterol
  • Irregular periods
  • Low libido
  • Fluid retention
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Iron-deficiency
  • Glaucoma
  • Frequent headaches

Family history that suggests you could have a higher risk for hypothyroidism

  • Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance
  • Goiter
  • Prematurely gray hair
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, Sjogren’s, etc.)
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Elevated cholesterol levels

10 tips to support a healthy thyroid

Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before using supplements included at Hypothyroid Mom.

  1. Eliminate gluten from your diet! One in three patient’s with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are sensitive to gluten.
  2. Selenium is essential to a healthy thyroid and the first thing I recommend for those with autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s. Get 200mcg of selenium in this supplement by Pure Encapsulations.
  3. Wild caught fish, like salmon, supply ample omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for optimal thyroid function. If you don’t eat fish frequently, you can supplement with a high quality Omega3 supplement, like Thorne Research Omega Plus 2-3 caps daily.
  4. Get plenty of sunlight to optimize your vitamin D levels and take 1000-2000IU daily of Vitamin D3, like Thorne Research D-1,000.
  5. Herbs that support thyroid function include ashwaganda, eleuthero and other adrenal adaptogens. One of my favorite formulas is Gaia Herbs Thyroid Support.
  6. Dandelion greens, carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and sweet potatoes are all rich sources of essential Vitamin A. I feel that goitrogens in moderation or sauteed, cooked or steamed are not a problem. The only caution is those who are using raw greens in large quantities for smoothies or juices, which can be a problem. There are so many benefits to these foods that, even in the case of hypothyroid, I would not recommend avoiding them entirely.
  7. Use organic coconut oil in your cooking — it’s great for high heat cooking and sautéing many different meats and vegetables.
  8. Filter your drinking water from chlorine and other harmful chemicals which suppress the thyroid and block iodine. I recommend the Berkey Water Filtration System for the VERY cleanest water money can buy! It’s portable, too!
  9. Find daily ways to detox, like using an infrared sauna. Check that the sauna has been tested to ensure it emits low levels of EMF (electromagnetic fields) such as the saunas by Sunlighten. Other ways to help your body detoxify from chemical exposures (petrochemicals, PCBs, pesticides, and mercury) include taking epsom salt baths and adding chlorella, parsley, or cilantro to your daily smoothie.
  10. Work on lowering stress levels through daily gratitude, prayer, meditation, yoga, deep breathing!

Environmental toxins may be poisoning your thyroid

Many environmental factors have the potential to impact thyroid function. Some of these factors include:

  • Potassium perchlorate, which inhibits iodine uptake by the thyroid, is used in rocket propellant, fireworks, and automobile airbags. Potassium perchlorate is stable in the environment and contaminates water throughout the United States. Newborns and infants are most susceptible to this inhibitory effect on iodine transport. The thiocyanates in cigarette smoke can have effects similar to potassium perchlorate.
  • Isoflavones (phytoestrogens), found in soy proteins, are thyroid peroxidase inhibitors.
  • Pesticides induce glucuronidation of T4 and reduce T4 half-life.
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls are industrial chemicals that were banned in 1975 but still are routinely detected in the environment. They have been shown to reduce T4 levels in animals and are neurotoxic. Their effect varies because of partial agonist effect at the thyroid hormone receptor and their varied chemical structure.
  • Bisphenol A—used in plastics, as resins for coating food cans, and as dental sealants—antagonizes T3 activation of the thyroid hormone b-receptor in rats, causing a thyroid hormone resistance–like syndrome.
  • Keep your home free from these and other toxic chemicals.

A prescription for hypothyroid

If you are truly hypothyroid, no amount of nutritional supplementation will replace your abnormally low levels of thyroid hormone. Ask your doctor to do comprehensive thyroid lab testing including: TSH, free T4, free T3, total T4, total T3, reverse T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOs), and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb). An ultrasound to evaluate the appearance of the thyroid is necessary if you are experiencing symptoms of enlarged thyroid or nodules.

Common drug options for thyroid replacement include:

T4 preparations

T4/T3 preparations
WP Thyroid
ERFA Thyroid

T3 only preparations

About Jill Carnahan, MD, ABFM, ABIHM, IFMCP

Dr. Jill Carnahan uses functional medicine to help you find answers to the cause of your illness and the nutritional and biochemical imbalances that may be making you feel ill. Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with root cause of disease instead of just treating symptoms. Dr. Jill will search for underlying triggers that are contributing to your illness through cutting edge lab testing and tailor the intervention to your specific needs as an individual. Dr. Carnahan’s office Flatiron Functional Medicine is located in Boulder, Colorado.

READ NEXT: 300 Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Count How Many You Have

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. The ashwaganda that I was taking made my thyroid problem worse. So I’m not sure how you can call it a thyroid support. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and have not had a problem until taking the ashwaganda. Last TSH 26.32. Their normal high 4.5. T4- 0.95, their range 0.82 to 1.77, from November last year.

  2. CAN hypothyroidism cause diabeties medication to not work? I am currently on metformin 2-2x a day and glimiperide4-1xa day.

  3. Valerie J. Huff says

    Hi, my name is Valerie. I am originally fom England and trained as a nurse and midwife in the early sixties. I worked in Bermuda where I met my husband, so have lived in the US since then.
    About the early nineties my husband tranferred to New Hampshire doing research in the Ocean Science Depatment. I applied for a NH license and was refused. I was told I had to take State Boards and do Foreign Nurse evaluation again. I had at the time four US state licenses, and letters of recommendation.The whole experience cause me great stress, plus I have inherited Bi-polar depression. I moved back to Maryland leaving my husband in New Hampshire. Following this I had a bad riding accident where I fractured a vertabrae.
    I had bad experience with Doctors, who following the accident where they repaired my vertabrae I was continually being told there was nothing they could do, even though I was in pain
    This has been going on for fourteen years and during that I developed a low thyroid situation. One doctor did put me on Tirosint 100+ and I felt great. Even though during my visit with her I told her I wasn’t trying to be a pain, to which she relied’you are’.
    A chirpractor that I was seeing put me on Standard Process Drenamin, which helps with my tiredness.
    Eighteen months ago I moved to Williamsburg and now I am with another Doctor who has reduced my Tirosint to 88mcq.It seems this is their magic number. I am back to feeling
    lousy again and at present I am armed with info to take to my next appointment.
    My blood results are not good showing low TSH and T3.
    I will be 78, this month and I am not your usual ‘old lady’. I’ve done Trekking in Nepal, taking care of animals in a Lion Park in South Africa and Elephants in Sri Lanka. All in the last ten years.
    Typically being a very experience nurse, Postpartem, NICU and Infertility, I am not Doctors’ favorite patient.
    I would love suggestions but definitely I need someone who will listen. I believe in alternative medicine which is the way I was trained. Signs and symptom are key.
    Thank you for reading my ramblings.

    • Valerie,
      Have been dealing with hypothyroidism for 30 years but kept it under control with T4. About 6 years ago was bitten by 3 ticks & it’s been difficult to get things stabilized since then. I live on the East Coast (Delaware) & tick-borne infections are what flipped the switch in my body. It really trashed my immune system and adrenals. Have spoke with countless people who were diagnosed with “chronic fatigue syndrome” and “fibromyalgia” who later tested positive for lyme or other co-infections (the testing isnt reliable with many false negatives for lyme & the co-infections are hard to test for). Had to take T3 for awhile since I wasn’t converting T4 to T3 (possibly due to HPA issues). Am also an experienced nurse & many docs don’t believe in tick-borne illnesses so I had to travel to Maryland to get help for lyme and co-infections. Not sure if this could be contributing to your issues. If you go on some of they lyme support group websites, there’s lots of info so you can see if you have other symptoms. Mainstream docs don’t believe lyme/co-infections exist after treating with the standard 3 weeks of doxy (as I was) & testing is hit or miss. It might be worth finding an experienced lyme literate doctor since you have traveled extensively in the past 10 years & have lived in the Eastern U.S.

      One of the first things I experienced on this journey (with ticks) was that my thyroid became poorly controlled. I had chronic fatigue & pain, looked like I had Cushing’s Syndrome, had chronic flu-like symptoms, began having panic attacks and a multitude of symptoms which later progressed into seizures. Like you, I was trying to find answers but my docs weren’t listening. Most lyme literate professionals are extremely thorough; they also use alternative medicine, test for parasites, heavy metals, etc.

      Not saying this is what you have, but it may be worth the time to check some lyme/co-infection websites. Like you, I was very active and traveled. Now I am lucky to get out of bed each day.

      I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Bonnie Fallahi says

      Lynda, I feel so inspired by your life.

  4. Andrea Lautzenheiser says

    Do you have a multivitamin you recommend?

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