Hashimoto’s thyroid disease is an unfortunate condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Your thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland found near the base of the neck directly below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid is an integral part of the body’s endocrine system, which makes hormones that control a number of the body’s functions.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, is often caused by inflammation from Hashimoto’s. Studies show the disease is actually the most common cause of hypothyroidism. For the most part, Hashimoto’s disease primarily affects middle-aged women, but has been known to affect men and children as well.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
It may take some time to notice the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s. In fact, the first symptom you may experience is noticeable swelling at the base of your throat. Hashimoto’s disease will usually progress at a moderate pace over time, causing chronic thyroid damage. This leads to a decrease in thyroid hormone levels (TSH) in your blood. The symptoms of Hashimoto’s are primarily the same as hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Tiredness, fatigue or sluggishness
- Heightened sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- Swollen face
- Weak brittle nails
- Thinning hair
- Swelling of the tongue
- Unidentified weight gain
- Muscle tenderness
- Stiff joints
- Muscle weakness
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Anxiety and depression
- Minor memory loss
Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system creates antibodies that attack and wreak havoc on your thyroid gland. Doctors are unsure why your immune system chooses to attack the thyroid gland. Some believe it could be a virus triggering the response, while others think genetics could possibly be involved. However, Dr. Farley recognizes there are about 13 common variations of root causes. This is something that should be treated on an individual basis and not as just hypothyroidism.
There is a combination of factors that might increase your probability of developing the disease. These may include age, gender, heredity and others.
Well-Known Risk factors
The following factors have been known to contribute to one’s risk of developing Hashimoto’s:
- Gender- women are more prone to getting Hashimoto’s disease, as compared to men.
- Age- Hashimoto’s disease most often occurs during middle age, but can show up at any age.
- Heredity- you are automatically at higher risk for the disease if you have relatives that suffer from thyroid or other autoimmune diseases.
- Prior autoimmune diseases- having other autoimmune diseases like diabetes, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis automatically raises your probability of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
- Radiation exposure- it has been shown that individuals who have exposed to excessive amounts of radiation are more prone to having Hashimoto’s disease.
When left untreated, hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease can lead to numerous health problems such as:
- When the thyroid gland becomes enlarged due to constant stimulation and the releasing of hormones it is known as goiter. An underactive thyroid is the most common causes of goiter. While the condition is generally tolerable, an enlarged goiter can affect your appearance and sometimes inhibit swallowing or breathing.
- Heart issues. Hashimoto’s disease has also been linked with a higher risk of heart problems. The primary reason behind this is because elevated levels of low-density LDL cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol, often shows up in patients who suffer from hypothyroidism. If treatment is delayed, hypothyroidism can result in an enlarged heart and, even worse, heart failure.
- Mental health concerns. Depression is known to appear in early Hashimoto’s disease and can gradually worsen over time. Hashimoto’s disease commonly results in a decrease in libido for both women and men and leading to delayed mental functioning.
- We should mention this is a very rare side effect, but it can happen. Myxedema is a life-threatening condition that can occur after long-term underactive thyroid resulting from untreated Hashimoto’s disease. The symptoms of this condition can include drowsiness followed by lethargy and eventual unconsciousness. Myxedema coma can be brought on by infection, pain relievers, exposure to cold, or other stresses affecting your body. If there is suspicion of myxedema, immediate emergency medical treatment is required.
- Birth defects or abnormalities. Pregnant women who have untreated hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease could give birth to babies with an increased risk of birth defects. It has been well documented that these babies are prone to both intellectual and developmental delays. It has long been believed that there could be a tie between hypothyroid pregnancies and birth abnormalities, like heart issues, kidney problems and cleft palate.
How Can Dr. James Farley Help?
Truth be told, Hashimoto’s patients are usually registering between too little and too much thyroid hormone levels. The problem must be addressed for a root functional cause diagnosis, instead of being viewed as a hypothyroid problem only. Another dangerous problem with treating a patient as a hypothyroid patient only and not as an auto-immune patient, is that your immune system will begin to attack other tissues. This increases your risk of lupus, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, dementia, ulcerative colitis, celiac, ALS, and much more. This is why catching it early on is imperative.
Dr. James Farley will uncover all of your root functional causes personalized to your case, then correct them!