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Common Signs of an Underactive Thyroid in Teenagers

By The Lucy Rose Clinic

July 6, 2022

The teenage years can be a complex time for teens and their parents. This is influenced by the hormonal changes occurring  which are expressed in both physical and emotional differences to behaviour. Due to the complex changes occurring during this period it can often be difficult to determine whether it’s puberty or something else driving the changes in your teen’s body. We thought we’d help you out by enabling you to be able to rule out thyroid as a possible cause. So here are 8 signs that your teenager may be suffering from an underactive thyroid:

1. They are female

Thyroid problems are much more common in women than they are in men. This is no different for teenagers with 80% of all teenage thyroid problems seen in women. Although the reason for this is not known, research has shown that it may relate to the direct connection between thyroid hormones and the hormones that change within a woman’s body during menstruation. As puberty is a time when these hormones begin to change in line with the developing menstrual cycle, this connection would explain the increase in thryoid problems during this time.

2. There is a family history

The genetic link between thryoid and family history has been well established. It is no different for teenagers. Around half of adolescents presenting with a thyroid problem have a family history of thyroid. This can also be said for a familial history of auto-immune issues which influences thyroid function.

3. They have another auto-immune condition

Teenagers are at a higher risk of developing thyroid problems if they have an auto-immune condition present. Teens with celiac disease, alopecia, vitiligo, and type 1 diabetes should be tested for thyroid, as many of these immune disorders have detrimental effects on thyroid hormone health.

4. Sleeping more than ususal

The thyroid gland works in tandem with the adrenal glands (the stress, hormone & energy centres of the body), which form the endocrine system. Thus, when this relationship becomes dysregulated it can cause unstable cortisol regulation & ultimately lead to adrenal fatigue; causing restlessness, irritation & over-tiredness. This is where testing adrenal hormone levels from saliva samples are useful in detecting further abnormalities.

5. Difficulty concentrating

Thyroid irregularities can sometimes display a lack of concentration, motivation, increased forgetfulness, nervousness, and low mood. Mood changes aren’t an uncommon occurrence in young teens, however, generally speaking, quite intense changes in mood, may relate to increased severity of the thyroid condition. However, it’s unlikely that emotional distress alone, like anxiety or depression, would be the only factor of a thyroid condition.

6. Delayed Puberty

The thyroid hormones are vitally important for reproductive health, so it’s not unusual to know that delayed pubertal development, menarche, slow growth & irregular menstrual cycles, can be hallmarks of thyroid issues. Furthermore, unexplained weight changes, especially around the time of puberty, are one of the most common signs in thyroid disorders. Weight gain may be a sign of hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, and weight loss may signal hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid.

7. Skin and Nail Changes

Often underactive thyroid conditions can contribute to many dermatological skin changes in young kids and teens. They may experience an exhaustive list of signs including, pale, dull and dry skin, flaky brittle nails and vertical ridging, as well as dry, splitting straw- like hair.

8. Other missed connections

On top of all the commonly seen signs of an underactive thyroid, there are many signs that can easily go unnoticed. Some traditional lesser known signs and symptoms can include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as less frequent bowel motions, abdominal bloating, loss of appetite & constipation. As well as, constant sensitivity to cold, a hoarseness or deep voice, muscle or joint pain, puffy hands and feet, enlarged testicles in boys and delayed breast growth in girls; sweaty palms & armpits, even difficulty with mathematics.

Having a thryoid condition is a common problem. Although it is less common in teens it is still something that you should be aware of. It can be easily tested for and your teen can easily manage the symptoms to live their normal life. If your teen is experiencing any of the above, please feel free to book a free 15min consultation.

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