You might not notice signs or symptoms of Hashimoto's disease at first, or you may notice a swelling at the front of your throat (goiter). Hashimoto's disease typically progresses slowly over years and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. The signs and symptoms are mainly those of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Hoarse voice
- Unexplained weight gain — occurring infrequently and rarely exceeding 10 to 20 pounds, most of which is fluid
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in your shoulders and hips
- Pain and stiffness in your joints and swelling in your knees or the small joints in your hands and feet
- Muscle weakness, especially in your lower extremities
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you develop these signs and symptoms:
- Tiredness for no apparent reason
- Dry skin
- Pale, puffy face
- Hoarse voice
You'll also need to see your doctor for periodic testing of your thyroid function if:
- You've had thyroid surgery
- You've had treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
- You've had radiation therapy to your head, neck or upper chest
If you have high blood cholesterol, talk to your doctor about whether hypothyroidism may be a cause.
And if you're receiving hormone therapy for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto's disease, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. Initially, it's important to make sure you're receiving the correct dose of medicine. Over time, the dose you need to adequately replace your thyroid function may change.