Hashimoto's thyroiditis symptoms

The most obvious symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in children and young people can be slow growth and gaining too much weight even though they are eating healthily. It can also delay the onset of puberty, although in extreme cases it can cause signs of puberty to start at a very early age – this is known as precocious puberty. There is a long list of symptoms and signs associated with hypothyroidism although not everyone will have all of them. These include:

  • feeling tired and sleepy all the time
  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • feeling cold even in a warm place
  • dry and coarse hair
  • dry and thinning hair
  • a hoarse or croaky voice
  • muscle weakness, cramps and aches
  • pins and needles in the fingers and hands
  • a puffy face and bags under the eyes
  • slow speech, movement and thoughts
  • slow mood or depression
  • memory problems
  • a slow heart beat
  • slightly raised blood pressure
  • raised cholesterol
  • constipation

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis - diagnosis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is diagnosed through blood tests that check the levels of thyroid hormone and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in your child’s blood. If your child’s TSH level is above the normal reference range and their thyroxine levels are below the reference range, then their thyroid gland is underactive.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis - treatment

Your child should be referred to a paediatric endocrinologist or a paediatrician with a special interest in endocrinology. who will start them on treatment with levothyroxine. Your child will need to take levothyroxine for life. Levothyroxine is a replacement for the thyroxine that their body should produce naturally. The dose will be calculated based on the weight and age of your child, and may be adjusted as they grow. They will need to have regular blood tests to make sure that they are given the right amount of levothyroxine. This will vary depending on the child’s age and how they are developing – for example a very young child may be tested every six weeks until their thyroid levels are stable. An older child who is growing at a normal rate and feeling well may only need to be seen every four to six months. When your child reaches adulthood and their treatment is stable, they will normally have a blood test once a year and be placed under the care of a GP.

Your child’s symptoms should diminish and disappear within three to six months of starting treatment with levothyroxine. In some cases, it may take longer to find the right level. If symptoms return you should arrange to see your child’s GP. It is important to monitor your child’s medication as you will need to make sure that they take it regularly.