7 Common Thyroid Symptoms That Often Lead to a Thyroid Misdiagnosis

By |2018-04-17T14:50:09-07:00April 19th, 2017|Hypothyroidism|29 Comments
  • thyroid misdiagnosis

How would you feel if your doctor scored a 36% on their thyroid medical school exam?

If you consider that anything less than 60% is a failing grade…

…that’s taking failing to whole new level.

Would that make you be a bit skeptical about your diagnosis?

Maybe you would want to get a second opinion?

Of course… and rightfully so!

Well, I stumbled upon this thyroid infographic put together by the University of Utah Health Care program showing the common differences in symptoms between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

And I don’t agree with their assessment one bit.

They got it maybe 36% right.

Take a look and I’ll show you what I mean…


In this thyroid infographic, the University of Utah Health Care program provides a side-by-side comparison of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism symptoms.

And here’s where my issue lies…

Of the eleven hyper-thyroidism symptoms listed, I counted seven of which are actually very common hypothyroidism symptoms.

That means that only 4 (or 36%) of the hyperthyroid symptoms they listed are even valid.

And one of the four (irregular menstrual cycle) was listed for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism!

So, I’m giving a free pass on that one.

Spreading poor information like this is dangerous.

It goes to show you why so many people are misdiagnosed and wrongly treated for hyperthyroidism when they are actually quite hypothyroid.

I’ve worked with a number of clients who have been misdiagnosed because of this when the signs were quite obvious.

In fact, there’s a super simple test you can do in the comfort of your own home that will show you just how hypothyroid you really are. It’s called the Ultimate Thyroid Testing Protocol.

The Ultimate Thyroid Testing Protocol

You can download this testing protocol for free right here.

7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Thyroid Symptoms

1. Trouble Sleeping

Trouble sleeping is actually one of the top five hypothyroid symptoms my hypothyroid clients experience.

When you become hypothyroid your body is forced to compensate by over-activating your body’s stress response.

As a result, you over-produce the stress hormone adrenaline.

High nighttime adrenaline is one of the most common causes of insomnia and night waking today.

If you woke to the sound of breaking glass in your home and you thought it was a break-in… you bet your adrenaline is going to surge.

Even if it was a false alarm, would you be able to go right back to sleep?

Of course not, the adrenaline will keep you wide awake for quite a while.

(Note: We’ve covered some simple ways to help you improve your sleep in this articles on “How To End Insomnia and Wake Up Refreshed With Hypothyroidism”.)

2. Enlarged Thyroid Gland

Today, an enlarged thyroid gland is more commonly caused by hypothyroidism than hyperthyroidism.

This is due to the effects of estrogen.

As a hypothyroidism sufferer, your estrogen production tends to increase while you lose the ability to detoxify it.

This is what makes you estrogen dominant.

Estrogen can directly block your thyroid gland by inhibiting the proteolytic enzymes that allow your thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone into your bloodstream.

Since your thyroid gland continues to produce thyroid hormone but can’t release it, your thyroid gland can swell from storing too much thyroid hormone.

Sure, you can go through periods known as a “thyroid storm” where your enlarged thyroid gland unloads too much thyroid hormone at one time.

This can push you into a temporary or transient state of hyperthyroidism.

However, this is truly an underlying hypothyroid problem as it’s a direct result of your thyroid gland being blocked.

3. Rapid Heartbeat

Many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can exist at one extreme or the other.

And so we can see two hypothyroid people with opposite symptoms.

Heart rate is one of them.

Hypothyroidism sufferers can experience both high and low heart rate.

As mentioned previously, when you become hypothyroid your adrenaline levels can rise significantly.

And one of the primary effects of elevated adrenaline is an elevated heart rate.

Yes, hyperthyroidism or even taking too much T3 will also increase your heart rate.

But you can’t rely on heart rate as an accurate indicator of thyroid function either way.

4. High Blood Pressure

Like heart rate, blood pressure is another common hypothyroid symptom that can exist at one extreme or the other.

The hormone aldosterone plays a central role in the regulation of your blood pressure.

And many of the thyroid suppressive hormones and chemicals overproduced during hypothyroidism are also known to increase aldosterone and blood pressure.

These include:

  • Cortisol
  • Estrogen
  • Serotonin

High blood pressure is no more a hyperthyroid symptom than it is a hypothyroid symptom.

(NOTE: Want to learn how to lower your blood pressure safely and effectively? Take a look at this post on “5 Safe Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Support Your Thyroid“.)

5. Anxiety

High levels of thyroid hormone (T3) can make hyper-thyroid sufferers sensitive to adrenaline, resulting in anxiety.

Yet, it’s a common hypothyroid symptom as well, which can be caused by high adrenaline, high serotonin, or a “thyroid storm” as previously mentioned.

For example, for those with high adrenaline, adrenaline peaks at night (typically around 2am to 3am), which can cause you to suddenly wake with a racing heart and in a panic.

If you’ve ever experienced this scary event, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But at the root of thyroid-related anxiety is the Hypothyroidism-Serotonin Anxiety Cycle.

(NOTE: Want to learn more about this dangerous Hypothyroidism-Serotonin Anxiety Cycle and how to stop it, click here.)

6. Weight Loss

Hopefully you’re beginning to see a recurring theme here.

Almost all of the symptoms we’re covering involve this over-activation of your body’s stress response.

And almost all of these symptoms can occur at one extreme or the other.

Weight gain/loss is no different.

Because I keep stats on m clients, I can tell you that close to 10% of them are suffering from extreme weight loss as opposed to weight gain.

This typically occurs when there is a chronic overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol.

One of the primary functions of cortisol is to break down muscle tissue to convert into sugar to keep your brain fueled and keep you alive.

When chronically overproduced, cortisol can lead to severe muscle wasting and the inability to maintain muscle mass and weight.

(NOTE: Want to lose weight while protecting your thyroid? Make sure you avoid these “4 Hypothyroidism Weight Loss Mistakes Sabotaging Your Thyroid“.)

7. Moist, Smooth Skin

While you might not see this as much of a negative symptom, the underlying cause is quite serious.

Ever wonder how many of those anti-aging wrinkle creams and lip plumping lip sticks work?

They use estrogen to create edema in the skin tissue to cause swelling for a fuller look.

But estrogen is anything but anti-aging.

As mentioned previously, it’s quite anti-thyroid.

So, although hypothyroidism oftentimes results in dry scaly skin, the opposite can be true as well.


I know the medical profession means well.

But they’re so far behind the times today when it comes to proper thyroid diagnosis and treatment.

And until they get up to speed on many of these common thyroid symptoms and what causes them… thyroid misdiagnosis will continue to be a major problem for thyroid sufferers all over.

Have you experienced any of these “hyper” symptoms while being hypothyroid? Let us know in the comments below.

(Note: Want to test your thyroid more accurately than blood labs, while doing it for free, at home, and in five minutes or less? Yes… it’s really that simple. Get Forefront Health’s Ultimate Thyroid Testing Protocol here for free!)

The Ultimate Thyroid Testing Protocol

About the Author:

Tom Brimeyer is the founder of Forefront Health and the creator of the popular Hypothyroidism Revolution program series. Specializing in thyroid and metabolism disorders, Tom's work has impacted over 50,000 people spanning more than 60 countries. Tom is also a highly sought after practitioner who runs a successful health consulting practice where he continues to help clients across the globe to take back control of their lives from their devastating health conditions.


  1. Lianda February 11, 2016 at 9:22 am - Reply

    I didn’t see any mention of muscle cramping in the legs. Although I’m being treated with Armour thyroid (NDT) for Hashimoto’s, I’ve noticed that legs cramps have become an almost constant condition. Is this related to the thyroid gland?

    • Tom Brimeyer February 11, 2016 at 5:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Lianda, muscle cramping is very common with hypothyroidism as hypothyroidism causes you to quickly waste essential salts such as magnesium and potassium. Using thyroid hormone (T3) alone does help to improve magnesium retention and prevent loss. But diet is also just as important.

  2. judy aitken February 11, 2016 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    I have had both at extreme’s. Then tested normal 3 mos. after I stopped levothyraxin. I had been hypo, then dropped alot of weight twice in ten years. Levothyraxin after taking ten years made my hair fall out. I have had every single symptom at one time or another. Your right about the medical society not wanting, or unwilling to address thyroid decease. Maybe they want us to keep feeling awful enough that death would be a release. What’s up with that. Drs say they care, but they could care less.

  3. Colleen February 14, 2016 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    I was 120 lbs (at 5’10”) and then suddenly 140 lbs. in a month. I was running 5 km 3 times a week and then suddenly couldn’t walk up the stairs without legs feeling like they were buckling. Doctor said thyroid was normal and gained weight because I quit exercising. Hair was breaking off and getting shorter, Nails got weak and ridged. I went back and insisted I had a thyroid problem so he tested the T3 and it was low. Taking synthroid made me feel worse. Took a homeopathic which got me back to feeling normal and weight went back to 130. It has gradually crept up to 160. Hair seems fine. Temp is normal. Sleeping well but maybe falling asleep too easily (while on the computer). Wondering if it is low again or is it just post-menopausal weight. I’ll be 60 next month.
    I wonder if the low weight (120) had something to do with my diabetes or pre-thyroid condition.

  4. Eloise February 25, 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I have experienced practically all the symptoms mentioned above. I have ended up in the ER on at least four or five occasions with sometimes extremely High Blood Pressure. As for lower extremity cramping and weakness…that was a daily thing which meant that I had to supplement with Magnesium on my own. The doctors just kept telling me that my test levels were NORMAL!

    It wasn’t until one hormone specialist became curious about my hormone levels and actually checked them that I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, only they didn’t give it a name then; it was ‘your hormone levels are low’ and I was started on Nature-Throid.

    Once I found the ‘Hypothyroidism Revolution’ online and started searching for answers, I realised that I was dealing with Hypothyroidism…my condition now had a specific name and Tom Brimeyer had answers and was sharing them. I have been following the HR Protocol for several months now and have definitely noticed measurable differences. There was so much that I didn’t know but was more than happy to learn and change and also to pass the good word along. I fully appreciate all of the help that I have received through the Hypothyroidism Revolution. I would suggest that some doctors, more doctors should take the time to study the HR Protocol for their patients’ sake.

    • Tom Brimeyer February 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Eloise, thanks for the kind words and I’m happy to hear that you’re doing better.

  5. dave lee February 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I’m on llevothyroxine 150mg per day.but still have symptoms of low thyroid.is this normal.

  6. Patricia March 3, 2016 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Hi Tom

    Today had a scan and confirmed that my left thyroid is slight enlarged, right thyroid there are 1-2 nodules and my doctor said it is not threatening. Just to monitor, I bought your HR protocol and really have to focus and follow 100%. Useful comments and these days I am having legs and hands numbness and tingling. At first I thought it was due to sitting too much and lack circulation.

    Is there any difference in treating thyroidism for women with hysterectomy?


    • Tom Brimeyer March 3, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Hi Patricia, there’s no difference at all as the program is already designed to address this. This is a result of estrogen dominance which was caused by your hysterectomy. Excess estrogen inhibits the proeolytic enzymes that allow the gland to release thyroid hormone which can cause the gland to enlarge. And excess estrogen also leads to nerve swelling/entrapment which can cause of the numbness and tingling. It’s a common cause of carpel tunnel for the same reason.

  7. Connie Hughs March 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I went through a period where I woke up one day and could not swallow food at all, just out of the blue. Went to a gastroenterologist immediately for a endoscopy and nothing was found. I went through several more unpleasant tests and the whole time he was amused with me telling me it was just anxiety, while I know it wasn’t! Finally after losing 50 lbs and having panic attacks so bad I went to a family Dr who prescribed an SSRI that I could not take. She did not take me seriously either. I was so desperate that I finally went to a local PA who actually took blood and found that I had hypo parathyroidism. She was appalled that no other Dr had checked blood work on me! After I had the tumor removed, I went back to the Dr because my anxiety was just getting worse, as well as muscle and joint pain, greasy oily scalp, mood changes, agrophobia just to name a few. She rechecked my blood and my T3 and 4 were Ok, but my thyroid was 5 .458. Went on levy thyroxine and feel worse! I am on 50 mg right now and take. Xanax for the anxiety and depression as well as panic attacks. At times I feel like I am going crazy! For the record, I am 43 years old and can eat now, thank God!

  8. Dora March 14, 2016 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Hi Tom
    I Have nodules in both thyroid glands, my dr said it’s working in normal levels, is that possible? Because I honestly feel pain all over.
    Thank you.

  9. Chris April 2, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Hey Tom 38yr old male taking .068mg of synthyroid having problems with my low sex drive of late went to the Docs and a urologist said all blood work was fine. In my 20s I was having the same problem but put me on .075mg levothroxine for years everything was fine but had too many episodes of rapid heart rate , so 4yrs ago I dropped my dose to .062.5mg and felt great only of late I upped it to correct this problem should I keep upping it till my libidio comes back to norm
    I know it’s my thyroid causing this problem but what do I do when both of them are telling me my levels are fine and want me to take Ed drugs that I don’t want to take .

  10. Stephanie June 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism all my blood work was normal even the T3 and T4 but my doctor ordered an ultrasound bc my calcium level was up and from that ultrasound he diagnosed me with hypothyroidism how can that be? It worry a me bc my blood test was normal and I don’t want to be in medication I don’t need

  11. Lisa Hood August 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    I am hypo and on Naturethroid and Bio-identical progesterone (estrogen was very high). Blood pressure is crazy high and I don’t want to do meds. I am going to follow the protocol and keep taking the Naturethroid and Progesterone. Anything else someone might recommend? This came on sudden! 150/100 is a common reading for me. Thanks much!

    • Tom Brimeyer August 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa, under the influence of estrogen, blood pooling can occur in the large veins. In this case, introducing the progesterone will increase the smooth muscle contractions of the veins, resulting in the sudden increase.

  12. help October 12, 2016 at 7:27 am - Reply

    For 5 years no one can get my thryoid in check. I feel every morning like I have a hangover. I am very irritable, can’t sleep thru the night wake up and can’t get back to sleep. My blood pressure is good, excercise try to eat right. When I was on low dosage I could handle it but they keep raising it up. I feel sick everyday. They did another test and I fell into a normal level (12). They say my tsh is high. I am wondering what symptoms would I get if I was misdiagnosed and taking thyroid pills. Wondering also if there is anything close to a thryoid problem which exhibits same problems. Help!

  13. Kathy H April 20, 2017 at 7:01 am - Reply

    I struggled to get a diagnosis after what I now recognize was decades of hypothyroidism based on understanding symptoms (I had a partial thyroidectomy at 20). I’ve had to be strident in my self-advocacy to get a proper diagnosis and then treatment through 2 GPs, 1 GYN, 1 endo. Their treatments moved the needle a little but I still felt lousy.

    I knew there was some connection between my thyroid, diabetes 2, back problems, and menopause because of the rapid onset or increase of problems after menopause. Doctors ignored me. Stop The Thyroid Madness, Mary Shomon, and Hypthyroidmom showed me I wasn’t crazy. However, it was Tom who provided scientific explanations in plain English to explain the connections that I intuitively recognized but lacked the knowledge to explain.

    Tom’s program is a godsend. I’ve only been on it for about a month, but I’ve had more improvement than with my doctors and am encouraged that I can get better with discipline and time. When it comes to my thyroid and diabetes, I doubt I’ll ever fully trust conventional doctors again — unless the medical profession leaps forward.

  14. Lynne brown April 20, 2017 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Agree with that last comment by Cathy. Have not had any help,from them or any constructive advice. Thank you Tom that you do help us. Blessings and love.

  15. Monique D. April 20, 2017 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I had all those symptoms, and thanks to all the online advice from people like you, I was able to manage Hashimoto’s very well. I even started to lose some weight. Then I had a hip replacement. I asked my endocrinologist if the surgery would cause my symptoms to flare, because I assumed that with my immune system being involved in healing, I would need a dosage adjustment in my thyroid medication. She said no, but after the surgery all my symptoms returned with a vengeance, and everything that worked before seems to have little or no effect. I am pretty stumped, since my endocrinologist moved away and my GP is pretty clueless. Do you think surgery can aggravate symptoms?

    • Tom Brimeyer April 20, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Sorry you had to experience that and you’re doctor should have known better. Surgery results in an extreme stress response. Just because you’re under anesthesia and your brain can’t interpret the pain doesn’t mean that surgery isn’t a stress to the body. It’s not uncommon for seemingly healthy people to develop arthritis after routine surgery because of this.

  16. Shanna Semel April 20, 2017 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I’m going through this now. Have hasimotos 15 yrs. Have been low carb and working out for over a year. Having hair loss. Cycles irregular. Palpitations. A lot or anxiety. Feeling just weird like I’m going to pass out at times. Tsh and t4 normal twice in last month. T3 low but I have always had a little lower t3 but now lower than I have ever had. The doctor doesn’t seem to think thus could be the low carb diet for over a year. Not sure what to do. Feel terrible. Any advice ?

  17. Deb Newman April 20, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    I tried posting this on Facebook in two different browsers and get an error that there is something wrong with the url. I want all of my friends to read this!!!

  18. nad April 22, 2017 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Can I take some proteolytic enzymes like an emergency for short time?

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