Today’s diet and lifestyle choices often leave us feeling tired and sluggish. We may even find that our skin gets dry and pale. Left unchecked, a stressful lifestyle and too little sleep can even cause feelings of depression. Adopting a healthy eating plan – and fitting in a regular workout – may well fix your tired system. But what if your symptoms persist? Could you be suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease?
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s Disease (also known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that manage many of your body’s activities. Hormones are chemical signals that communicate with your organs and tissues, in order to control functions such as metabolism, growth and mood.
This attack impedes the thyroid’s functions and causes inflammation. Even so, most of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease may not be noticed, as it advances slowly over the years. You may notice swelling at the front of your throat – or Goitre – which isn’t painful but can look unsightly. If left untreated, this disease can cause serious damage to the thyroid and lead to a drop in vital thyroid hormone levels in your blood.
What are the symptoms?
A damaged or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) has an impact of many of the body’s functions. These can include:
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- A rough or hoarse voice
- Weight gain
- Weak or aching muscles.
- Stiff or swollen joints
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding
What is the difference between Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid – when it isn’t creating enough thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s Disease is an immune system failure, which in turn causes damage to the thyroid. Your own body is attacking the thyroid gland. While these two show similar symptoms, you can see that it’s vital to diagnose your symptoms correctly – and so treat the correct cause of your illness.
Who is affected, and what are the causes?
This disease mainly affects middle-aged women, but it can affect both men and women of all ages. You are at greater risk of Hashimoto’s Disease if you have had thyroid surgery, radioactive iodine treatments, or radiation therapy to your upper body.
Doctors don’t know for sure what causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland. Some think that it may be triggered by a virus or bacteria. Others believe it could be genetic. Most likely, it’s a combination of factors which include lifestyle, family history, sex and age.
Can it be treated?
Left untreated, an underactive thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism) caused by Hashimoto’s Disease can lead to a number of health problems. Heart disease – caused by high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol – is often present with an underactive thyroid. Mental health issues can worsen. Libido can decrease. And, in rare cases, Myxedema can occur. This is profound drowsiness leading to unconsciousness.
Treatment can be simple and effective, depending on how long you have had the problem. As with any illness, though, it is important to get a correct diagnosis. And to ensure that your chosen treatment is working for you.
Dr Sanua has been practicing integrated medicine for over three decades. Each individual has unique needs. And Dr Sanua’s experience with natural medicine, holistic wellness and sensible nutritional advice focuses on solving the problem – not just treating the symptoms.