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Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s: How Are They Related?

Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are a huge part of my life, and I wanted to share what they are to try and raise awareness of these conditions.  I would like to note that I am not a doctor, but have done lots of research on these topics and would like to share this information with you.  To learn more about my thyroid journey, please read My Thyroid Journey.

What is Hypothryoidism?

Hypothyroidism, also know as underactive thyroid, is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.  The main purpose of the thyroid hormone is to “run the body’s metabolism.”

Symptoms of Hypothryoidism

Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Hair Loss
  • Impaired memory

These are just some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism and may vary depending on the severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency.  Most people have a combination of these symptoms, while others have no symptoms at all.

What causes Hypothyroidism?

There can be a number of reasons that your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones.  Here are the major causes:

  • Autoimmune disease – This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.  Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system produces antibodies that attack your own tissues.  I will explain more about a specific autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, later.
  • Thyroid Surgery – Removing all, or a large portion of your thyroid gland can diminish or halt hormone production.
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation used to treat cancers of the head and neck can affect your thyroid gland.

How is Hypothyroidism diagnosed?

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests.  Blood tests that measure TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and T4 are the most common tests used to diagnose hypothyroidism.

How is Hypothyroidism treated?

Unfortunately, hypothyroidism can’t be cured.  Treatment is obtained by daily use of a synthetic thyroid hormone, and most patients are able to control  their hypothyroidism by taking daily medication.

What is Hasimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid.  Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease are the same as those for hypothyroidism.

What causes Hashimoto’s?

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease and doctors don’t know what causes your body to attack your thyroid.  Doctors do believe that some factors may contribute to your risk of developing Hashimoto’s.

Risk Factors:

  • Sex – Women are more likely to get Hashimoto’s.
  • Age – Hashimoto’s can occur at any age, but more commonly occurs during middle age.
  • Heredity – You’re at a higher risk if others in your family have thyroid or autoimmune diseases.
  • Other autoimmune disease – Having another autoimmune disease can increase your risk.
  • Radiation exposure – exposure to excessive levels of radiation can increase your risk.

How is Hashimoto’s diagnosed?

The following lab tests should be done to diagnose Hashimoto’s:

  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • TSH
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies
  • Thyroid peroxidase antibodies
  • Reverse T3

How is Hashimoto’s treated?

The first thing most doctors do to treat Hashimoto’s is prescribe a hormone replacement, just as with Hypothyroidism.  Many doctors like to extend the treatment plan to include a change in diet.  This means eating real, whole foods, and removing gluten from your diet.

I hope that this post has explained Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s in more detail.  If you feel like you are having some or most of these symptoms, please contact your doctor and have them run some thyroid tests.

 

 

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