Do you feel short of breath lately and wonder if it’s a low thyroid causing this or all in your head, even though you have not been diagnosed with hypothyroidism?

Usually, when someone has a new-onset situation of unexplained shortness of breath, the first thing they suspect is a heart condition.

But if low thyroid runs in your family, or you have other symptoms suspicious for low thyroid such as unexplained weight gain, hair loss and feeling cold when everyone else feels fine…you may end up immediately suspecting low thyroid function for feeling shortness of breath in the absence of physical exertion.

Shortness of Breath: Low Thyroid or Mental?

“No, it probably isn’t mental,” begins Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

“If your thyroid isn’t functioning, your metabolism will slow down, so everything become sluggish,” continues Dr. Besser. “You also may develop heart arrhythmias. These things can cause you to feel short of breath.”

Shortness of Breath: What to Do First

Get your heart checked. Start with the most serious possible cause, then work backwards.

There are many medical conditions that can cause a feeling of not getting enough oxygen, or of tiring quickly from low-level activities that previously never got you breathing faster.

Other common conditions that cause a feeling of shortness of breath or issues with breathing include sinus conditions, acute anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux disease and LPR.

Another point to consider is that low thyroid can cause shortness of breath without causing other classic symptoms of this autoimmune disease (e.g., hair loss, weight gain, hoarse voice, feeling chilly, tingling fingers).

The blood test for hypothyroidism is a very easy way to screen for this treatable disease.

Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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