Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto's
thyroiditis is caused by the body attacking the thyroid gland. Two types of
antibodies are found in Hashimoto's thyroiditis:
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO)in 90% of people with autoimmune thyroiditis.
Thyroglobulin Antibodies in 60-70% of people with autoimmune thyroiditis.
TPO is more commonly used in medical lab tests due to TPO having a higher sensitivity rate resulting in higher accuracy.
With these antibodies there is a widespread infiltration of the thyroid gland by lymphocytes, plasma and inflammatory cells. This results in some fibrosis and destruction of the follicular epithelial cells. These antibodies work along with auto-reactive activated T cells and result in damage to the thyroid gland resulting in the gland no longer being able to produce the thyroid hormones the body needs. This results in hypothyroidism. Generally this process is slow.
Hypothyroidism is easily treated however the patient need to be active in treatment and well informed on hypothyroidism including cause, symptoms, treatment, prognosis, progression of the disease if not treated properly. If left untreated hypothyroidism will eventually lead to myxedema coma (a protentially fatal condition). However as with many common medical conditions if the condition is not properly treated could lead to a serious life threatening condition. With proper treatment the condition will be well controlled.
Hypothyroidism causes a slowing down of the body's metabolism. Common symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis (hypothyroidism) includes:
Fatigue (You may feel a little tired, exhausted or just don't feel like doing anything. You may just not have the interest in doing a lot of physically demanding activities.)
Cold intolerance (you feel cold when everyone else feels comfortable or hot). Your hands and feet are cold. Your body temperature is lower than what it should be.
Puffy face (eye lids and below eyes appear puffy or swollen, skin on upper eye lids drop down. The eye lid opens all the way but the skin appears loose and sags some.
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
Aching or pain in muscles and or joints (this pain is not to the degree of fibromyalgia pain),some muscle stiffness can occure, increased headaches or even trigger migraine type headaches. You may experience increased muscle cramps at night.
Slower heart rate (however some could experience faster heart rates, I'm not sure why but some people do react the opposite from the expected), heart may pump out less blood per beat (decreased cardiac output) (Again those of us who go the opposite could have increased cardiac output). Chest x-rays may reveal the heart may be enlarged and dilated. EKG (electrocardiogram) may show low voltage and depression of EKG & ST complexes with flatten or inverted T waves.
Higher cholesterol levels (and maybe lower "good" cholesterol levels)
Shortness of breath due to decreased cardiac output, prolonged circulation time, poor cardiovascular adaptation to exercise and reduction of vital lung capacity and reduction of maximum ventilatory capacity. If you climb a steep mountain and find yourself a little more short of breath than you did before you developed hypothyroidism, that's why.
Horseness of voice due to mucinous deposits in vocal cords.
Cognitive problems including forgetfulness, slowed thinking process, slowed ability to process information (Ex. unable to subtract 7 from 900 & keep subtracting, or do math calculations in your head), severe impairment of working memory (this is where information is first brought in and processed to go to the short term and or long term memory) actually the working memory does not take in or file information, speech difficulties including pronouncing words correctly (or remembering how to pronounce them correctly), recalling a familiar word (occurs more frequently than with the general population).
Depression can occur as a result of the slowing down of the body's metabolism, the T3 hormone level being too high, the T4 level off or in response to any persistant troubling symptoms.
Menstrual cycle changes including: periods could become more heavy or painful, irregular cycles (could increase in frequency or decrease).
You may have a greater chance of miscarriage or have difficulty conceiving.
Coarse dry hair, thinning hair (hair sheds more than usual amount)
You may be susceptible to colds and infections (may catch whatever is going around and take longer to get better).
As with most diseases, not everyone will have every symptom and some will have some symptoms not listed above. Why? Because everyone is unique in many ways including their body's fuctions and response to disease. Most of these symptoms will decrease (ideally they should completely disappear) once a proper dose of medication is obtained.
However I still experience symptoms from time to time as well as other people I know who has hypothyroidism. Why? I have not found the answer from any medical professional or literature. I do have a theory which I'll share. Our body normally produces various hormones and chemicals it needs to carry out it's bodily functions (metabolism, digestion, neurological functions, muscular movements, breathing, etc.). However our physical environment changes constantly (weather, injuries, diseases, stress, etc) and this puts changing demands on our bodies. (Much like a thermostat set on 70 degree, when the outside temperature is 45F and sunny the heater will run less than if the temperature is 25F and a blizzard out side.) Our bodies subtle adjustment to internal and external demands go unnoticed because our bodies' organs produce and release what is needed and continues it's work. However with hypothyroidism we get one dose of T4 (or T4 & T3) and it's not adjusted to meet the body's demands. As a result we occassionally experience symptoms when our body need a little more hormone or doesn't need what it received in the pill. At this point in medical science it probably would be next to impossible to regulate it on a daily basis because the hormonal changes would be too subtle. However physicians do order T4 and TSH lab work on a fairly regular basis (usually every 4-12 months after the proper dose is obtained) to ensure urethyroid (normal levels).
I did ask my internist about why symptoms persist after urethyroid is established. He did indicate that once a person gets hypothyroidism that it aggravates other conditions which may have not poised a problem before and also that the thyroid regulates everything else. He didn't think there is a fluxuation in the body's need for the thyroid hormones but that the thyroid hormones remain stable and other hormones fluxuate. However I do recall years ago in college in an anatomy class the professor talking about homeostasis in which the body maintains a level of optimal conditions in which all the orgins and cells can function properly. As outside conditions change or adverse conditions occur the body sends out specific hormones, antibodies, etc to rid the body of threatening invaders and return to optimal conditions. My internist couldn't answer why symptoms persist such as delayed relaxation of the reflex or other physical signs (not to mention the "feeling" symptoms). He agreed medical science hasn't found all the answers to questions yet. So right now I'm sticking with my theory. (Besides I remember doing a term paper (for an advanced biology class) in high school on cancer in which we had to develop our own theory. At that time researchers were reporting numerous things caused cancer (this was in 1979). I concluded that a virus that was passed along on the chromosome was triggered by these things reported to cause cancer. That's why some people get cancer from exposure to a substance and some don't. In college we had to do a term paper (English 101) on any topic of our choosing so I did a follow up on cancer. I was surprised researchers were discovering what I had concluded. Interesting?)
Therefore it is important to follow your doctor's recommendations and learn as much as you can about hypothyroidism. This increases your understanding and decreases stress from not knowing what is happening. Hypothyroidism is easily treatable but is an ongoing treatment and management of your health. There is no cure for hypothyroidism but with proper treatment and medical care bothersome symptoms can be kept at a minimal.
Are Food Allergies Common with Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism? A visitor to my site shares her experience & question pertaining to this. If you have food allergies check this out & share your experience with others.
Autoimmune Disease Checklist Site lists symptoms & possible autoimmune diseases that may cause these symptoms. Notice hashimoto's thyroiditis is listed frequently. It apparently causes eye pain & vision problems as well which I have been experiencing occasionally over the past year or so.
Hypothyroidism and Iron: Anemia and Hemachromatosis "The relationship between hypothyroidism and iron levels. Conditions related to iron levels in the blood are more common with hypothyroidism than in the average population, according to researchers. Iron-deficiency anemia (insufficient iron) is more common in people with hypothyroidism. Symptoms or signs of anemia include:
Feeling tired or weak
Pale appearance to the lining of lower eyelids
palpitations, fast or irregular heart beat
faintness and breathlessness
bruising that occurs without reason
long or unusually heavy menstrual periods
Anemia is diagnosed using a comprehensive iron panel blood test.
In addition to your doctor's recommendations regarding treatment for anemia and any suggested iron supplementation, you can also consider the following recommendations:
Eat more foods that are good sources of iron.
Help your body absorb iron better by eating foods high in vitamin C.
Red meat can supply iron, but also helps your body absorb iron from other foods.
Limit your use of tea, except herbal teas.
Increase dietary fiber to prevent constipation."
Hypothyroidism and Iron Levels Anemia and Hemachromatosis
Iron Disorders Institute "Anemia Anemia is more a symptom than a diagnosis. Numerous conditions result in anemia, some do not require iron supplementation. When anemia is detected, a physician will want to find out why anemia exists before beginning treatment." (Ideally, however mine didn't but he is generally a very good doctor.)
MedicineNet "Anemia: Can not enough iron be the problem? Women are more likely than men to have anemia because of the loss of blood each month through menstruation. Iron deficiency anemia is common.
In adults, iron deficiency anemia is most often due to chronic blood loss. This can be from menstruation or from small amounts of repeated bleeding (which can be very subtle) due, for instance, to colon cancer.
Anemia can also be due to gastrointestinal bleeding caused by medications including such very common drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen (ADVIL, MOTRIN).
In infants and young children, iron deficiency anemia is most often due to a diet lacking iron."
ANEMIA What are the consequences of being anemic?
Mild anemia does not have any significant long-term consequences. However, as the anemia becomes more severe, there are medical problems which may arise. The most serious of these involve the heart. Severe anemia may cause a condition called high-output heart failure, where the heart must work harder to provide enough oxygen to the brain and other internal organs. The heart beats faster and increases the amount of blood that is delivered per minute. When this condition occurs in individuals that have existing heart disease, the heart may be unable to keep up with this increased demand, and symptoms of heart failure such as difficulty breathing and leg swelling may occur. Individuals who have coronary artery disease, or narrowing of the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, may develop symptoms of angina, the pain associated with an insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle. Depending on the age of the woman and the degree of coronary artery disease, angina may develop with even mild anemia. In severe cases, the heart muscle may be permanently injured, and the woman will be at increased risk for a heart attack."
Hashimoto's can cause hyperthyroid symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
Fibromyalgia Could the symptoms be something else? It's possibly could be a subclinical case of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Sometimes there may be a little more to your symptoms than described here. Research is showing a coorelation between Hashimoto's, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. To view a chart that list these symptoms click here. I also have a link to the artical I got the chart from. Also be sure to check out the Resources & links.