Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. This means that your body attacks the thyroid as if it were a foreign invader. The cause for this sudden change in your immune system is not known yet, but the affects of this disease are. Some believe it is caused by things such as viruses or another form of anitigen entering the body.
When your immune system turns on your thyroid it is attacking it and causes the thyroid to become inflamed and swollen which may cause pain and difficulty swallowing. It progresses slowly over a period of time and does not just appear over night. Why is it so important to get this treated? Most people do not fully understand how vital the thyroid is to everyday life.
The thyroid gland is responsible for our metabolism, that is how fast we use carbohydrates and fats, regulates temperature, regulate the production of protein and helps to regulate the heartbeat. That is why people with Hashimoto’s can have a high blood pressure.
People with Hashimoto’s disease develop hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). When your body attacks the thyroid it forces the thyroid to secrete less of the T3 and T4 hormone our bodies need to complete vital functions. Our bodies also secrete another hormone called cacitonin, which stimulates bone building cells and decreases calcium in the blood. Without these hormones you can develop fatigue, unexplained weight gain, sensitivity to cold temperatures and constipation. The symptoms also include joint pain and stiffness, swollen face, hoarse voice, an elevated level of cholesterol in your blood, and muscle aches and tenderness more commonly in your hips and shoulders.
This disease is seen more often in woman who are 30 to 50 years old. It is however, easily treated with daily thyroid hormone replacements. If it is not treated it could lead to more serious complications. A goiter is an enlarged thyroid and although it might not be painful, can grow to extreme sizes. You will also become depressed and forgetful.
If you are unusually tired, with dry skin and unexplained weight gain you should contact your doctor immediately. This weight gain is usually water gain so check your ankles and wrists to see if they are swelling or if you are retaining any water. You could exhibit these symptoms and not have Hashimoto’s disease but just a hypoactive thyroid.
It is important with any thyroid treatment to make follow-up appointments with your doctor. Your medication may need to be adjusted periodically to ensure the correct dosage.