Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto's disease is one of the most common forms of thyroiditis affecting one's thyroid gland. As per endocrineweb.com, it affects as much as 14 million American population, mostly affecting women.
A person suffering from this Hashimoto's disorder has decreased thyroid hormone production by one's thyroid gland, making it difficult to maintain a normal body temperature and metabolism rate. Prolonged Hashimoto’s disease can lead to permanent damage therefore patients are advised to seek immediate medical attention.
For that, it is highly important to understand what are the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This way, you can get medical advice as early as possible.
In this blog post, we will see what are the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto's disease you should look out for.
What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto's thyroiditis, also known as lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is one of the most important endocrine glands that control the function of almost every organ in the body.
Thyroid hormones are crucial for controlling how energy is produced and used in the body. Ultimately, it is responsible for proper metabolic functions.
Being an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis results in your body's immune system attacking your own thyroid gland.
So, when you are affected by Hashimoto's thyroiditis, your body produces antibodies against the thyroid gland. And these antibodies attack the thyroid gland disrupting its natural functioning. Consequently, thyroid hormone production is disturbed and the functioning of other organs is also affected seriously.
Who is most likely to develop Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto's has become a common disorder in the US. Though it is an autoimmune disease that can possibly affect anyone, here are a few people who are most likely to develop Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
- Middle-aged women - Especially those who are around middle age, are most likely to develop the disease.
- Hereditary - Some of the major risk factors for developing Hashimoto's thyroiditis include a family history of autoimmune diseases or having other endocrine disorders. But still, there are cases where people are carriers and they don't show any signs of it.As a carrier, it means you might be carrying antibodies against your thyroid gland without showing symptoms. The antibodies produced by you can destroy your own thyroid cells only when triggered by an external factor like stressors etc.
- People with other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, etc...
Causes for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
To understand the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease, it is important to know what causes it. Though the exact cause of this autoimmune thyroid disease is not known, the most common causes include:
- Excessive Iodine in the body
- Prolonged exposure to radiation
- Certain infections especially viruses like EBV ( Ebstein Barr virus )
- Poor diet specially processed food.
Signs and symptoms of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
The worst part about Hashimoto's disease is that it does not show any prominent symptoms in the early stages. The symptoms start to show slowly as the problem worsens. So, understanding the basic symptoms of Hashimoto's is highly important. This ensures that you can start seeing the signs of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in the early stages itself.
The most common symptoms that will indicate if you have Hashimoto's disease include:
With Hashimoto's, you're likely to experience a loss of energy most of the day, especially during the later part of the day. This fatigue is the most important symptom that will indicate if you're suffering from Hashimoto's disease.
Especially for people who are trying to lose weight, this fatigue can be a big setback as they will lack the needed energy levels to work out or take part in physical activities.
However, it is also important to note that having fatigue doesn't mean you have Hashimoto's. But, fatigue when accompanied with any other following symptoms, it is better to check for Hashimoto's.
Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight
Most people who have thyroid problems will experience difficulty in losing weight. This is because the condition of their thyroid gland is affecting the metabolic functions of their body.
However, with Hashimoto's disease weight gain is usually common as it leads to hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid).
Joint pain and swelling
A few other common symptoms of Hashimoto's disease that you should look out for include swelling of your joints especially your hands and feet along with joint pain especially in the cold weather. Furthermore, you may experience muscle aches all over your body which is another sign that something is not right with your thyroid gland.
Arthritis-like symptoms featuring soreness and stiffness of joints can occur in some patients.
Brain fog refers to a combination of symptoms including
- Difficulty in focusing
- Memory loss - long or short term
- A cloudy feeling
- Being forgetful
- Feeling abnormally confused
- Thinking and communicating problems
Brain function is highly dependent on the energy produced by the mitochondria, the powerhouse of our body. And this mitochondrial function is affected by abnormal levels of thyroid hormones.
Consequently, brain function is affected giving rise to brain fog.
And this is why brain fog can be one of the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease.
Constipation is another common sign of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
If you have constipation along with any other unusual signs and symptoms, it can be a sign of Hashimoto's disease.
Gastrointestinal issues like bloating, loose stool, or diarrhea
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in sending signals to the gut to make certain enzymes that eat up toxins and foreign particles from the food we eat before it is absorbed into our body.
As such many people who have thyroid problems suffer from gastrointestinal issues leading to abnormal digestion of food. This leads to abdominal pain and bloating etc...
Jaw or neck pain
It is not uncommon for people who are suffering from Hashimoto's disease to experience jaw aches. This can, again, be due to the disturbed metabolic functions because of low thyroid hormone production.
Hair fall issues
Though hair fall is not a universal symptom of Hashimoto's disease, it can be one of the signs that indicate there may be chances of thyroid problems.
With low thyroid hormone production, poor mitochondrial function, and inflammation, hair follicles are destroyed causing hair loss problems.
Menstrual cycle changes
Menstrual cycles tend to become irregular or stop altogether for women with Hashimoto's. They may also have pain or heavy menstrual cramps.
Though some women will experience all of these symptoms, it is not necessary that every woman who has Hashimoto's will show signs of menstrual cycle changes or irregular periods.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis can also cause infertility issues for both men and women. Women's ovulation may become irregular. Also, their menstrual cycles are likely to show changes, as mentioned earlier.
Men can also face problems with fertility since sperm count is reduced in men who have Hashimoto's.
Mood changes like depression and anxiety
Hashimoto's can also cause depression and anxiety in people.
Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in the functioning of neurotransmitters i.e. chemicals that send signals from one neuron to another for normal brain, heart, and endocrine system functioning including moods.
People who have Hashimoto's disease may have lower levels of these important neurotransmitters because their body is not producing enough thyroid hormone as it should be.
This leads to depression or anxiety problems too in patients with Hashimoto's disease.
Dry skin can be one of the symptoms of Hashimoto's problem. Decreased sweating and coarse skin can happen when the thyroid hormones are low and unable to regulate body mechanisms.
The skin can become coarse from dehydration and lack of smoothness due to poor cell communication.
Now that, you know the most common symptoms of Hashimoto's disease, it is important to seek medical attention when you find one or more of the symptoms occurring more often.
Your functional medicine doctor can help you by healing your thyroid and controlling your autoimmune conditions by understanding the root cause of your Hashimoto's disease and treating it.
Suffering from a chronic disease like thyroid, gut problem, weight issues, autoimmune issues, etc... is not easy. Dr. Gupta is a certified Functional Medicine Physician and his personalized plans have helped thousands of people to reclaim their health back.
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