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How to Detect the Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

    How to Detect the Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune health condition that affects the thyroid. It requires treatment along with medicines to manage flare-ups. But how do you know if you are suffering from this thyroid problem or having the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

    In this article, you will be reading about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis along with symptoms and other essential points. We will also discuss the health effects when Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is left untreated, which makes it essential for you to know the symptoms and seek timely medical advice.

    Let us begin by defining Hashimoto’s disease or thyroiditis.

    Understanding Hashimoto’s disease

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s disease is the inflammation of the thyroid gland, resulting in an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. It is an autoimmune condition, affecting your thyroid gland and ultimately the thyroid hormone production.

    To explain, the thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped, small gland situated in the front of your neck. Your thyroid hormones are responsible for managing your body’s metabolic rate by taking care of bone maintenance, brain, heart, digestive function, and muscle function.

    However, the increase or decrease in thyroid hormone production can cause thyroid problems like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, respectively. These present with certain symptoms, which if detected in time can help in preventing complications.

    An autoimmune disease is a condition where your immune system attacks its own organs and cells. Generally, your immune system protects your body from bacteria and other harmful substances.

    But, in an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your immune system attacks your thyroid glands and damages them. This causes the thyroid to produce fewer hormones, commonly known as hypothyroidism.

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is also known as autoimmune thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.

    Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease that everyone should know

    Hashimoto’s disease is a very slowly progressing condition. Therefore, the symptoms may go unnoticed. However, it is necessary to know the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or the signs that can help detect this thyroid problem for timely medical treatment.

    The signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease vary from person to person and so does the severity of the condition. Some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include:

    • Changes in your voice like persistent hoarseness
    • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
    • Swollen face
    • Menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding
    • Dry skin
    • Thinning of the skin
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Constipation
    • Feeling cold
    • Fatigue
    • Hair loss
    • Cognitive issues like forgetfulness or depression
    • Edema or water retention
    • Sudden weight gain
    • Stiff and tender knees, feet and hand joints

    There are also times that Hashimoto’s disease may not cause noticeable symptoms. It can be detected during investigations for other health problems. In such cases, regular medical checkups or preventive health checkups help in detecting the condition.

    Who is more likely to develop symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease?

    In order to detect the condition, it is also important to be aware of the risks of developing it. Some people with certain factors or conditions may be at greater risk of developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

    Knowing this can help in assessing the symptoms and getting medical help to confirm.

    hashimoto's disease

    According to a study conducted by the researchers of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, women are eight times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis than men.

    The doctors also found that women between the ages of 40 and 60 are more likely to develop this condition than teenage or young women.

    Your chances of developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may increase significantly if anyone from the family is suffering from this condition or has had it before. You are likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease if you already have another autoimmune disease. It could help to be aware of the possible risks.

    People with certain conditions may be advised regular checkups to assess the risk and evaluate the symptoms if any for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

    The following list is the conditions that are linked to Hashimoto’s disease, such as:

    • Vitiligo – A condition in which some parts of the skin turn pale or white.
    • Lupus – A chronic, long-term, autoimmune condition that can affect numerous parts of your body.
    • Addison’s disease – A hormonal disorder that results in low cortisol and leads to weakness, fatigue, and hypotension.
    • Sjogren’s syndrome – A disease that causes dry eyes and mouth.
    • Autoimmune hepatitis – A disease in which your immune system attacks your liver.
    • Celiac disease – A digestive disorder that can damage the small intestine.
    • Type 1 diabetes – A condition that occurs when your blood sugar is significantly high.
    • Pernicious anemia – A disorder caused due to vitamin B12 deficiency.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis – A condition that affects the joints and sometimes other body systems.

    What are the health effects of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis if it is not diagnosed in time?

    The main purpose of being able to detect the possible symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is to prevent further health effects or complications and receive timely treatment.

    Here are some of the possible complications, which may occur due to undiagnosed or untreated Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

    Myxedema

    Myxedema is a severe form of hypothyroidism that results in unnatural sleepiness, even coma, and extreme sensitivity to cool temperatures as symptoms. In severe cases, this can be life-threatening!

    However, people rarely suffer from myxedema. It mostly occurs when symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis go unnoticed and the condition is left untreated.

    Reduced sex drive

    You are likely to suffer emotionally as hypothyroidism can significantly reduce sex drive. The low thyroid levels also lower sex hormones testosterone (in men) and estrogen (in women), disturbing their sexual health. Sexual dysfunctions may also lead to mental problems like depression.

    Therefore, when you suspect that you have the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, get medical help, and manage the condition.

    Congenital defects

    A woman with untreated Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can deliver a baby with congenital defects. The unborn baby is likely to have malformations in their kidneys, heart, and brain, which may result in developmental delays.

    Hence, women who are planning a baby and pregnant women need to be more vigilant, check for any possible symptoms, and get medical aid to prevent pregnancy complications.

    Heart problems

    The low production of thyroid hormones can increase the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack.

    In certain cases, Hashimoto’s disease causes other cardiovascular problems like heart failure or an enlarged heart.

    Goiter

    This condition causes enlargement of your thyroid gland. In severe cases, your neck looks as if a tennis ball is stuck in your esophagus. There are possibilities that the enlarged thyroid gland can cause swallowing and breathing problems.

    Noticeable changes around the throat or symptoms related to difficulty in swallowing or talking may be related to thyroid problems. Take note of these and seek medical advice.

    How to confirm if you are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease

    If you note any symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, see a doctor. Your doctor will order tests depending on the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other health factors. Your doctor will do a thorough physical examination along with laboratory tests such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), Free T4 (FT4) levels, and check the presence of anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies..

    Generally, people with a medical history of thyroid problems are screened to detect the development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any other thyroid problems. A regular checkup for people at greater risk helps in early detection and treatment.

    Follow the instructions suggested by your doctor and undergo the tests to find the issues in thyroid and possible causes. Do not use any medicines that support the thyroid unless prescribed by your doctor as the dosage should be titrated accordingly. Follow your doctor’s advice.

    Learn more about hormonal imbalances in women here.

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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Lymphocytic Thyroiditis)/https://www.thyroid.org/hashimotos-thyroiditis/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Hashimoto’s Disease/https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17665-hashimotos-disease/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Could you have a thyroid problem-and not know it?/https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/could-you-have-a-thyroid-problem-and-not-know-it/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Thyroid – Hashimoto’s disease/https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/thyroid-hashimotos-disease/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis/https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hashimotos-thyroiditis/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)/https://www.uclahealth.org/endocrine-center/hypothyroidism/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Hashimoto’s Disease/https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hashimotos-disease/Accessed on 19/05/2020

    Hashimoto thyroiditis: clinical and diagnostic criteria/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24434360/Accessed on 19/05/2020

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    Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jul 02
    Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD
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