Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Signs & Symptoms

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Are you noticing unexplained physical changes? Maybe you’re more tired than usual no matter how much sleep you get, or your weight is fluctuating regardless of how much you watch what you eat. With the many stressors of everyday life, It's easy to brush these symptoms off as just part of the daily grind. However, these symptoms may indicate a larger problem. 

If you’ve done some digging into what could be causing these changes, such as hormonal disorders, you may have come across something called Hashimoto’s Disease. Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease that impacts your thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck. Since your thyroid plays a vital role in regulating several metabolic functions, keeping it healthy is of the utmost importance.

Whether you're at the beginning of your journey or trying to find out more information, understanding Hashimoto’s symptoms can help you navigate this often misunderstood condition. 

Understanding Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto’s Disease, less commonly known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition when the body’s immune system gets confused and starts attacking the good guys–your healthy cells. In Hashimoto’s, this leads to inflammation in the thyroid gland and over time, the thyroid stops producing important hormones that manage a lot of processes in your body. According to the American Thyroid Association, around 20 million people have a Thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s, but ~60% are unaware.

If left untreated, Hashimoto’s can cause complications such as:

  • Heart problems: hypertension and reduced heart function.
  • Musculoskeletal problems: muscle cramps and persistent fatigue.
  • Reproductive problems: irregular periods and trouble conceiving.

Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s often fly under the radar or are attributed to other underlying causes. Because of that, Hashimoto’s is usually diagnosed much later, often when the person is in their 30s-50s and there is already significant damage to the thyroid gland. Understanding the early signs and symptoms can help jumpstart a conversation with your healthcare provider.

Common Signs of Hashimoto's

As you’re researching, you may wonder, “What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease?” There are quite a few since your thyroid gland manages many different processes in your body. There are, however, a few common symptoms that point to thyroid dysfunction and possibly Hashimoto’s. These are not an exhaustive list of symptoms, but the below are the most common.    

Goiter: Enlargement of the thyroid gland

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. Sometimes, it gets large enough to protrude from under the skin, causing daily discomfort. There are several types of goiters with different causes; when the underlying cause is Hashimoto’s, goiters are non-cancerous. However, there are still potential complications, like difficulties swallowing and breathing, coughing, and persistent fullness in the throat.

Fatigue: General tiredness and lethargy

Fatigue is a common symptom of Hashimoto's. When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, it can slow your metabolism, making you feel sluggish and tired. This is not a regular tiredness; it’s severe and persistent and can negatively affect your day-to-day life. People with Hashimoto’s also report poor sleep quality, only compounding fatigue. 

Weight Gain: Unexplained and mild weight increase

Like fatigue, changes in appetite and weight, specifically weight gain, are common symptoms of Hashimoto’s and are related to a slower metabolism. People with underactive thyroids also tend to have lower basal metabolic rates (BMR), the amount of energy your body uses at rest. A sluggish BMR makes it challenging to maintain a healthy weight, and people with Hashimoto’s may have to work harder or adhere to a specific diet to maintain a healthy weight.

Additional Hashimoto’s Symptoms 

Hashimoto's full signs and symptoms vary widely and will not be the same from person to person. That’s one of the reasons it can be difficult to obtain a diagnosis. However, aside from fatigue, weight gain and goiters, several other early signs of Hashimoto’s may indicate you have Hashimoto’s or another thyroid condition. 

Intolerance to Cold: Increased sensitivity to low temperatures

Understanding how cold weather affects your thyroid function boils down to one key process: CIT, or cold-induced thermogenesis. It's your body's way of turning up the heat to maintain a steady core temperature in colder climates. CIT ability is greatly reduced in people with poor thyroid function. When your body cannot regulate its internal temperature, you’re more sensitive to cold weather. 

Cosmetic Impacts: Skin, nail and hair changes

The hormones produced by your thyroid gland affect virtually every system in your body, including the health of your hair, skin and nails. Inadequate thyroid function may impact how fast your hair and nails grow and can also cause thinning hair and brittle nails. Thyroid hormones also regulate skin cell renewal rates so that hypothyroidism can lead to dry, flaky, dull skin.

Managing Hashimoto’s Symptoms: When to See a Doctor

Many people don’t catch Hashimoto’s until they already have hypothyroidism, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. If you notice any symptoms we discussed, speak with your healthcare provider. They may recommend a few tests that look at the levels of certain hormones in your bloodstream that can indicate the health of your thyroid. 

If you do have Hashimoto’s, there are treatment options, such as medication. Some research links symptom management to diet and nutrition. A diet rich in vitamin D, magnesium and dietary fiber can support overall thyroid health.

If you are dealing with any of the symptoms we outlined above or have a family history of thyroid conditions, do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider to discuss all of your options.

To learn more about the thyroid and the role it plays in our physical and mental health, check out our post on Thyroid Health 101

Allara Health provides personalized treatment for hormonal, metabolic & gynecological conditions that utilizes a holistic plan that merges nutrition, lifestyle, medication and supplementation, and ongoing, expert support to heal your body.

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