The thyroid gland is present at the base of the throat below the Adam’s apple. This small gland consists of two sections that are on either side of the wind pipe. It is extremely important as it produces and regulates the thyroid hormones that are necessary for all bodily functions at the cellular level and is responsible for the metabolism.
When the thyroid gland becomes underactive for a number of reasons it causes hypothyroidism. One of the main causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism that is an auto-immune disease. It is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or auto-immune thyroiditis.
This auto-immune disorder causes the body to attack different cells, in this case the thyroid gland is under attack. It causes inflammation of the gland, reduces its hormone producing ability and can even result in complete damage to the gland. It is very important if you suspect Hashimoto’s to not rely on TSH testing alone. By itself this test can be misleading.
How would you know that you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism?
Usually Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism takes a long time to manifest and symptoms may continue undetected for many years. Among the symptoms of Hashimoto’s are:
- Poor circulation resulting in cold hands and feet
- Constant and chronic fatigue that gets worse over time
- Puffy face that is characteristic of hypothyroidism
- Hair that becomes coarse and damaged and prone to breakage
- Dry skin and hands
- High cholesterol levels
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pain in the joints and muscles
- Increasing forgetfulness
- Cognitive function decline
- Heavy and/or irregular periods
- Changes in the voice
- Fluid retention
- Enlarged thyroid gland
All these symptoms may not be present or may be attributed to other reasons. In some people Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism may be discovered as part of investigations for other medical problems.
What happens if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism?
Two important hormones made by the thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). Both the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus send messages to the thyroid gland that regulate and monitor the release of these all-important hormones. The process is such that:
- The hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to make thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
- Then the pituitary gland sees how much T4 and T3 are already present in the blood, releasing TSH to increase production if required.
- If more TSH is present, more T4 and T3 are released.
- In the case that the thyroid gland is not working properly, it cannot make the hormones despite the TSH.
- When an auto-immune disorder like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is present, it attacks the thyroid gland, inhibiting its ability to make the important hormones.
- As the pituitary gland keeps releasing more TSH the thyroid gland becomes inflamed as it tries to make the hormones but is unable to do so.
- The gland enlarges, causing goiter and also get damaged.
Why does Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism occur?
Many different theories are prevalent regarding the causes of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Possibly both genetic and environmental factors work in tandem to cause this disease. Among other reasons put forward by researchers include:
- An attack by a microbe or bacterium could be responsible for the body attacking the thyroid gland.
- Genes may be responsible particularly since more women than men suffer from thyroid disorders.
- Age may play a role as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism develops in older people.
- Family history may play a role as this disorder runs in families.
- Learn more about the Steps to Reverse Hashimoto’s
How To Naturally Support Your Thyroid and Slow Down The Progression of The Immune System Damage.
Untreated Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism can lead to complications
As with almost any other disease, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism can cause complications if it is not caught in time or not treated. Among the problems associated with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are:
- Goiter – A swelling caused by the thyroid gland getting inflamed and enlarged results in a round and visible swelling at the base of the throat. If large enough, it can cause breathing or swallowing problems.
- Emotional distress – low thyroid levels may lead to depression and loss of libido.
- Heart conditions – when the thyroid levels dip, the bad cholesterol levels rise, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems including heart disease.
- Congenital defects in unborn infants – A pregnant woman who is not being treated for thyroid disorders runs the risk of birth defects, physical and/or mental in the fetus.
- Myxoedema – if the condition becomes very severe and left untreated it can cause extreme sleepiness, sensitivity to hot and cold and even result in a coma. However, this is rare and the disease is usually caught much before this stage.
How is Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?
Usually if you present with some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the doctor should order certain laboratory testing. Typically, he or she should check:
- Family history
- Blood levels of the thyroid hormones
- Blood levels of antibodies TPO and anti TGB Learn more about testing for Thyroid disease in the video you see below.
Usually an elevated TSH level signifies thyroid disorder. The other hormones T4 and T3 readings will also be abnormal. If you haven’t read my article on why TSH reading alone can be misleading you should read it here
Treatment and prognosis of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
If the doctor (general practitioner or endocrinologist) diagnosis Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, he will put the patient on synthetic thyroid hormone (available in different forms). The dosage will vary with the blood test levels. He will also monitor the patient at regular intervals till the levels are normal, increasing or decreasing the dosage of the thyroxine as required.
The medicine has to be taken daily and for life. If you stop taking the pills, the symptoms will recur. It is also important to monitor the levels at least on an annual basis or if there are further symptoms as thyroid function can still decline and you may have to increase your dosage of the medicine. If the gland enlarges or causes pressure, surgery may be called for.
An under active thyroid condition and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are treatable and prognosis is very good, as long as it is detected in time and you take your medications as prescribed.
Our Personal Thyroid Treatment Program is a great place to start
The Personal Program Thyroid Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for Thyroid Problems
Our office utilizes nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Nutritional Counseling, Advanced Testing, Hormone and endocrine support, Dietary assessment, and lifestyle guidance to help you reset your thyroid.
Our Personal Thyroid Recovery Program Customized to the Individual. NO cookie cutter approaches.
The Personal Program Thyroid Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for Low Thyroid function, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s problems. Our office utilizes nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Hormone and endocrine support formula, and lifestyle guidance.
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Each person suffering with Thyroid symptoms problem has a different set of mechanisms or causes. Our office will customize a Thyroid Restoration Program based on your testing and tailored to your individual needs.