Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease is the most prevalent thyroid condition in the United States. It also accounts for the majority of hypothyroidism. It affects more women than men but does not discriminate when genetics, environmental and medical conditions lead to Hashimoto’s. How thyroid controls hormone imbalances is essential in understanding Hashimoto’s and the auto-immune association. Learn who gets Hashimoto’s, the symptoms, treatments, and concerns.
The Endocrine System and Your Thyroid
The endocrine system is a system of glands and hormone controls in the body. The Pituitary gland and thyroid are main players in the endocrine system. Thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, affect hormones which affect how fuel is processed into energy within the body.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and hormones
As an autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s occurs as a result of the body’s immune system going haywire and attacking the thyroid. When the thyroid comes under attack it is unable to produce the hormones which control metabolism and the fuel burning efficiency of the body.
Essential hormones, T3 and T4. TSH is the hormone stimulate produced by the thyroid to produce the hormones T3 and T4. The pituitary gland controls the thyroid, but when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid it renders it virtually inactive.
The primary condition associated with Hashimoto’s is hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid hormone production. This condition means the body is unable to effectively use fuel and energy to function.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s and an underactive thyroid may not be obvious in the early stages of the disease.
- Fatigue, weight gain, and depression initially bring many under active thyroid patients to their knees.
- The body’s sluggish metabolism slows digestion causing constipation.
- A pale, puffy face, thinning hair, joint and muscle pain, and feeling cold are bothersome and often debilitating.
- The heart slows down as a reaction to low energizing hormones.
- Pregnancy issues are complicated by reduced hormone function.
- An enlarged neck due to an enlarged thyroid, growths or a goiter is evidence of a thyroid under siege by the immune system.
Auto-immune disease associated with Hashimoto’s
Lupus, Graves’ Disease, Diabetes (type 1), Pernicious Anemia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitiligo and Addison’s’ Disease are all auto-immune diseases associated with Hashimoto’s Disease. It is thought, these auto-immune diseases are responsible for many cases of Hashimoto’s. The auto-immune diseases often attack many parts of the body including the thyroid.
Hashimoto’s Disease Other Causes
- Genetics: If other family members have thyroid problems.
- Gender: Hashimoto’s is found seven times more often than males.
- Pregnancy: There appears to be a connection between women who have hormone or thyroid flares during pregnancy. As many as 20% of these women often redevelop Hashimoto’s symptoms later.
- Excessive iodine and some drugs trigger Hashimoto’s
- High radiation exposure, such as a Chernobyl nuclear site and radiation treated disease, such as Hodgkin’s disease, cause Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease.
Diagnosis of Thyroid disease, like Hashimoto’s Disease, is a simple blood test. The blood is tested for the presence of T1, T3, and TSH. The blood test may not initially show the obvious signs of thyroid problems, so if there are symptoms and other indications of possible thyroid problems repeated tests are observed.
Blood work will also determine specific antibodies associated with thyroid disease. Often Hashimoto’s sufferers will have normal hormone level but antibodies associated with Hashimoto’s.
Treatment of Hashimoto’s
Your endocrinologist is the best doctor to treat thyroid disease. They will do an assessment of an individual patient determined by weight, age, hormone levels, antibody level and other factors. Most patients will take a simple pill daily of T4.
Consequences of untreated Hashimoto’s
Pregnancy problems, infertility, and birth defects are prevalent in child-bearing age women with untreated Hashimoto’s. When a pregnant woman is pregnant she must be closely monitored for a host of problems associated with Hashimoto’s during pregnancy.
Uncontrolled high cholesterol is a concern for patients with undiagnosed and untreated Hashimoto’s Disease.
Severe cases of untreated and prolonged Hashimoto’s lead to many suffers having seizers, heart failure, coma and possible death.
The Outlook for Hashimoto’s is promising
Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease is the most prevalent thyroid condition. The symptoms of Hashimoto’s range from non-bothersome to debilitating. If untreated Hashimoto’s effects lead to catastrophic consequences. Testing thyroid function and antibodies associated with Hashimoto’s is simple, although inaccurate in the early stages. Hormone replacement is the only treatment of underactive thyroid currently, but a very effective treatment.