Hashimoto’s disease affects about 14 million people in the United States. It is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, which is a type of autoimmune disorder characterized by an inflamed thyroid gland. Patients with this strange condition have lymphocytes or immune cells that help attack the thyroid, instead of protecting it. They destroy the tissue, cells, and blood vessels inside the gland that disrupts the production of thyroid hormones. This fluctuation can lead to severe complications such as heart illness, chronic fatigue, recurrent miscarriages, infertility, problems in metabolism, goiter, depression, congenital disabilities, and severe hypothyroidism.
Doctors in St. George and other cities still find it a mystery why your immune system turns against your healthy tissues instead of defending it from bacteria, toxins, and viruses. However, recent studies reveal that specific factors can elevate your risk of developing this rare disorder.
Pre-existing autoimmune disorder
People suffering from other autoimmune diseases like lupus, diabetes 1, and rheumatoid arthritis are more susceptible to the disease.
Sex and age
Although Hashimoto’s disease can affect anyone, autoimmune disorders are more prevalent in women aged 30-50.
Individuals who have a strong family history of thyroid disorder are likely to develop the same condition.
The process of damaging the thyroid is gradual, and the early signs are barely noticeable. The disease doesn’t cause pain during its early stages and can go for years undiagnosed. If you have insufficient thyroid hormone, your body can not function well, and you might experience these physical symptoms:
1. Painless goiter
A bulge in the front of your neck is a possible symptom of the disease and can interfere with your swallowing and breathing when left untreated.
2. Weight gain
The thyroid hormone is vital in regulating your metabolism. When you have an underactive thyroid, your body can not burn as much energy, which results in a calorie surplus. Gaining extra pounds even when you are not overeating can be a sign of an underlying Hashimoto’s disease.
3. Menstrual disturbances
Heavy and irregular menstruation can be a potential symptom of thyroiditis. Hypothyroidism can cause heavy bleeding for more than seven days with the presence of large blood clots.
4. Other signs include:
- Brain fog and forgetfulness
- Hair loss
- Dry nails
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Muscle and joint pains
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pale and dry skin
- Reduced tolerance to exercise, and
These signs are not unique and mimic symptoms of other diseases. Some patients feel that something is off with their bodies, but they think that the symptoms are typical bodily reactions. That is why it’s crucial to talk with your doctor when you notice any of these signs. Your healthcare provider will perform laboratory tests to check if your thyroid-stimulating hormones are within normal ranges.
While the quote “prevention is better than cure” might not apply to cases of autoimmune disorders, the earlier it is detected, the earlier you can receive proper treatment. Scientists are still trying to discover the cure for Hashimoto’s disease. However, medications, lifestyle changes, and alternative medicine can help you live a better life.