Hashimoto’s disease is one of the lesser known diseases in the United States. With this disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, which sits at the base of the neck and produces the thyroid hormone. As part of your endocrine system, the thyroid regulates many functions in the body.
The signs of Hashimoto’s disease are difficult to detect at first because some of them aren’t very severe. Unless you notice a swelling in the front of our throat, you may mistake some of the common signs and symptoms for other health concerns. Signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe sensitivity to cold
- Puffiness of the face
- Significant hair loss
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle tenderness and stiffness
- Joint pain
- Pale, dry skin
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Memory lapses
When you should see your doctor
It’s important to see your doctor anytime you think something might be off or seriously wrong. If he or she is an experienced functional medicine physician, then you’ll be able to get to the root cause of your symptoms. That being said, here are some signs and symptoms you should really take heed of and schedule an appointment as soon as you can:
- Being tired for no apparent reason
- Dry skin
- Pale, puffy face
If your doctor determines that you do indeed have Hashimoto’s disease, then you’ll need to do periodic testing. If your doctor has prescribed medication for you, then it’s important to see your doctor on a regular basis to ensure you’re consuming the right dosage. Of course, you’ll need to see your doctor frequently if you’ve had thyroid surgery, radioactive treatment, and/or radiation therapy.
What causes Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to create antibodies that damage the thyroid gland. Doctors have not yet found a specific cause of Hashimoto’s disease. Some scientists and physicians are of the opinion that a virus or specific bacteria can cause the disease to trigger itself, while others think it is genetically constructed. There is also a known association between Hashimoto’s and gluten sensitivity.
Risk factors and complications
If left untreated, an underactive thyroid can lead to a number of complications:
Goiter: When your thyroid gland is under the impression that it needs to constantly release hormones, it can become enlarged. This enlargement is known as a goiter. Hypothyroidism is one of the main reasons a goiter will develop. Though the biggest downside of having a goiter is that it impacts your appearance, it can also disrupt functions such as swallowing and breathing.
Heart Issues: With hypothyroidism, your risk of heart disease increases. This is because of the high levels of lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol that occur in those with underactive thyroids.
Mental Conditions: Hypothyroidism can impact the body in a mental capacity. Many with Hashimoto’s disease also have depression, decreased sex drive, and slowed mental functioning.
Myxedema: This is a rare and life-threatening condition that can result from untreated hypothyroidism. Signs include drowsiness followed by extreme fatigue, lethargy, or unconsciousness.
If you suspect that you have an underactive thyroid, please call The Teggatz Clinic and make an appointment for an evaluation and treatment if necessary.