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14 Missed Signs of My Thyroid Condition Before I Was Diagnosed

14 Missed Signs of My Thyroid Condition Before I Was Diagnosed
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Looking back on my life, I had symptoms of Hypothyroidism (and signs of Hashimoto’s) from a young age.

From sixteen-years-old, following a bout of swine flu that left me feeling never quite the same since, a lot of the major symptoms started, such as ongoing fatigue and muscle aches and pains, which lingered despite being over the flu for a long time. Yet doctors repeatedly told me that they didn’t know why. 

However, even before having swine flu at sixteen, there were possible signs of my impending thyroid condition from an even younger age. I’m going to explore all of these here. Maybe you’ll realise that you had some signs of a thyroid condition, too.

1. Constipation

An embarrassing symptom of hypothyroidism for many of us, I experienced really bad constipation. From as young as I can remember, I never used the loo regularly. My bowel habits were unusual, but I never knew any different, passing a bowel movement just once every two weeks or so. This often lead to pain and a lot of discomfort.

Now that I have regular, daily bowel movements, I’m shocked at how little this bodily function used to occur for me. Over twenty-years of not regularly passing a bowel movement didn’t exactly help with developing oestrogen dominance either!

2. Anxiety

As a HSP, I’ve always been prone to anxiety, but now that my Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism are well-managed, I realise just how much of my anxiety was down to the undiagnosed thyroid condition.

Many people associate hypothyroidism with depression, and yes, I’ve also had my run-ins with this form of mental health condition too over the years, but anxiety was a surprising symptom that wasn’t connected to my thyroid condition until years later.

Anxiety impacted my day to day life hugely.

3. Scalloped tongue

I had a scalloped tongue from my teen years – or at least, that’s the earliest that I can find it in photos (I used to stick my tongue out at the camera often as a teenager…)

Rachel sticking out her tongue showing a scalloped edge

A large, scalloped tongue is a telltale sign of hypothyroidism. I was shocked when I learnt this though and was well into my diagnosis by the time this was picked up on.

4. Ongoing Fatigue

As touched on at the start of this post, I experienced unexplained, ongoing fatigue following the swine flu at sixteen, but I was also always pinned as a ‘lazy’ child before this.

I just never seemed to have the same energy as other kids my age and often felt a lack of drive or motivation. I always did well in school (and often come top of my class) but I struggled with energy and the motivation to do much else other than nap and lay on the sofa or on my bed outside of school hours.

5. Muscle Aches and Pains

The muscle aches and pains I experienced following swine flu had doctors baffled. I was told they were ‘probably just a lingering effect of having such a bad illness’. The aches would appear in the evening, usually after a busy day or a lot of walking.

This was another symptom that clicked in to place with the thyroid diagnosis.

6. Poor Immune System Function

After having swine flu, my immune system function took a nosedive. Before the illness, I was hardly ever ill and hardly off school, but after the swine flu, I seemed to catch illness after illness as my Hashimoto’s was ramped up.

In fact, at seventeen-years old, I caught another bought of flu that put me in hospital and developed into pneumonia as my body just couldn’t fight it off. I almost died.

After this period in hospital, my thyroid condition ramped up, but was still undiagnosed for a further four years or so.

7. Cold Intolerance

I was always cold as a child. Cold intolerance is such a common thyroid symptom.

8. Leg Cramps

In the last year or so before my diagnosis of a thyroid condition, I started to experience leg cramps during the night. Excruciating and long lasting, these cramps would leave me with a limp for days afterwards, and impeded my ability to keep up with running.

9. Eczema, Contact Dermatitis, Dry Skin

After the swine flu at sixteen, I had my first experience of skin issues. Eczema and contact dermatitis covered most my body and were incredibly difficult to get rid of. It wasn’t until I was on the thyroid medication NDT that these resolved.

10. Period Problems

Heavy periods, irregular periods, long periods (that went on for weeks) were never picked up on as possibly being caused by an undiagnosed thyroid condition, but they were another big part of this puzzle.

11. Migraines 

I also started to experience migraines at around nineteen-years old. I would have multiple a week which soon impacted my work.

A study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, suggested a connection between thyroid disease and migraines. It said that those with a pre-existing headache disorder such as migraine, have a 21% greater risk of developing hypothyroidism. Also very interestingly, those already experiencing migraines are 41% more likely to become hypothyroid. [1]

A study in The Journal of Headache and Pain also found that hypothyroidism was more common in those with migraines than in the general population, suggesting a plausible link between these two health problems. [2]

Hypothyroid patients frequently have a history of migraine issues during childhood, prior to developing hypothyroidism. So this can be an indicator of a predisposition to developing hypothyroidism and a warning of the condition to come.

12. Thinned Eyebrows 

By the time I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, I barely had any eyebrows left.

Rachel Very Ill From Levothyroxine

They grew back fully with some targeted, holistic treatment for my Hypo and Hashi’s.

Rachel Eyebrows Thick

13. Acid Reflux

As you get older, levels of stomach acid can decrease, but acid reflux can also be due to a hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. In fact, Studies have found that people with hypothyroidism (and especially Hashimoto’s) often have low stomach acid.

14. Low Vitamin Levels 

Low iron/ferritin levels were frequent in the years leading up to my thyroid diagnosis. The doctors put it down to the heavy and long periods (as explained above), and they no doubt had some impact, but so many people with thyroid conditions have low iron levels too.

What were some of your signs before you were diagnosed?

See also:

Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate Book Girl HoldingThe book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tiredwhich builds on this article in detail and covers how Rachel went from undiagnosed with a thyroid condition to getting her symptoms under control.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above article to learn more and see references to information given, as well as the below links. 

References:

[1] https://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/66846

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3620300/

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".

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