Hashimoto and Me – What I Went Through and How I Got Through This Horrible Disease
It's difficult to pinpoint how long I have been struggling with Hashimoto’s and low thyroid. Perhaps it could explain why I grew up with three siblings who were much thinner than I was, or explain why as a child I was always labeled as moody or temperamental. It may have developed in high school when my weight rapidly increased and my menstrual cycle ceased for two years. Another possibility is after I was married during one of my pregnancies, or even postpartum. And where did it come from? Was it something that I inherited from my mother, who had her thyroid removed in the 1970s due to a goiter? Perhaps. Most likely I will never know where it came from or when it developed. Still, as I look back on the last few years, I am able to clearly see some related events that finally lead to my diagnosis. This dedicated website takes a look back at some of those events that my doctor and I have been able to puzzle together and link to Hashimoto's and hypothyroid.
I have documented and written posts (to the best of my knowledge) about what I went through with Hashimoto's disease. I hope and pray that you can use my experience as a tool to help you with any symptoms you might be going through.
What is Hashimoto disease?
Hashimoto disease (also known as Autoimmune Thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. As a result of this attack, the thyroid becomes inflamed and is unable produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones. This hormone deficiency results in hypothyroidism, or what many people refer to as underactive or low thyroid. Hashimoto’s disease is named after Dr. Hakuru Hashimoto, a Japanese physician who first described it to the medical community in 1912.
What causes Hashimoto’s disease?
While the underlying cause of this disease is still unknown, there appears to be a strong hereditary connection. It has been found to occur more in women between the ages of 30 and 50, and is typically diagnosed following symptoms of hypothyroidism.
How is it diagnosed?
Hashimoto’s disease can be diagnosed through blood tests to confirm the presence of thyroid antibodies – specifically thyroiglobulin (TG) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies. When these antibodies are found in the blood, it suggests that the body’s own immune system has identified the thyroid as a foreign invader and has started to attack it. This misguided attack can happen slowly over a long period of time and can often prolong the diagnosis. Sometimes it isn’t discovered until the damage is so severe that the thyroid must be removed. In less severe cases, the damage causes a patient to develop an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroid). In either of these cases, a simple blood test can confirm if the damage was most likely caused by Hashimoto’s autoimmune disorder.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto?
Since adequate thyroid hormones are necessary for proper functioning of the body and brain, there are a wide range of symptoms that can be associated with Hashimoto’s. Many of these symptoms appear due to the hypothyroid condition that develops from the damage done to the thyroid. The most common of these hypothyroid symptoms are:
Goiter Or Neck Swelling
Lack Of Energy
Difficulty Losing Weight
Heavy Menstrual Cycles
Headaches And Migraines
Other symptoms of Hashimoto’s may be the result of a condition known as Hashitoxicosis. Hashitoxicosis occurs when a patient cycles back and forth between underactive (hypo) and overactive (hyper) due to the instability of thyroid hormones when the thyroid is under attack. Symptoms of Hashitoxicosis include any or all of the previously mentioned hypothyroidism symptoms in addition to symptoms that are generally associated with hyperthyroidism. These include:
Anxiety And Nervousness
Trembling Or Jittery
Rapid Heart Rate Or Palpitations
Shortness Of Breath
Light And Noise Sensitivity
How do you treat Hashimoto’s?
Treatment for Hashimoto’s would depend on the patient’s current symptoms. If the autoimmune attacks on the thyroid have rendered the patient hypothyroid, then a supplemental treatment of thyroid hormone is usually prescribed.
If the patient is experiencing a condition of Hashitoxicosis, it may be necessary to temporarily treat it with a betablocker to block the excess flow of thyroid hormone. Anti-anxiety medication can also be prescribed to manage the emotional symptoms while the hormone levels are being adjusted.
What Is Hashitoxicosis?
Simply stated, Hashitoxicosis is when hypothyroid patients experience episodes of hyperthyroid. Hypothyroid is a condition in which too little thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid, and hyperthyroid is when too much thyroid hormone is produced.
When a patient has been rendered hypothyroid due to the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the immune system mistakes the thyroid gland for an enemy and proceeds to attack it. During this attack thyroid cells die off and release thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. This surge of extra hormone in the bloodstream is what causes a patient to experience spurts of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of these hyperthyroid spurts are:
- Anxiety And Nervousness
- Panic Disorder
- Weight Loss
- Heat Intolerance
- Menstrual Irregularities
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Trembling Or Jittery
- Rapid Heart Rate Or Palpitations
- Shortness Of Breath
- Increased Sweating
- Vision Disturbances
- Light And Noise Sensitivity
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in Hashitoxicosis can vary in their severity and may increase during times of stress and illness. Thyroid hormone is very potent and even a slight increase in thyroid levels has the ability to wreak havoc on the mind and body. So to answer the question, what is hashitoxicosis…. that's it.