Do you feel like your life is a rollercoaster, with periods of high energy followed by times of extreme fatigue? Are you feeling increasingly tired or sluggish? Do you have episodes of anxiety? Do you feel like you have a lump in your throat that you can’t swallow, making your voice hoarse, causing problems swallowing, or causing a tight feeling in your throat?
You may have Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s disease, also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid is attacked by the body’s immune system. In patients who are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, antibodies react against proteins in the thyroid gland and go into attack, gradually killing thyroid cells. In the early stages of Hashimoto’s disease, patients may experience few to no symptoms. But as thyroid cells are damaged during each autoimmune attack, those cells release their stored thyroid hormones. This causes the patient’s thyroid hormone levels to be temporarily high, resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as panic attacks, anxiety, a fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking hands, diarrhea, and quick weight loss. This is also known as Hashitoxicosis.
This causes the patient’s thyroid hormone levels to be temporarily high, resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as panic attacks, anxiety, a fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking hands, diarrhea, and quick weight loss.
Hashimoto’s disease is often silent in the early stages, with no symptoms. But as the disease progresses, patients may experience a cycling back and forth between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism symptoms. Some patients may also develop a goiter, which is a swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland. The neck or throat area may feel sore or tender, and wearing scarves or neckties may be uncomfortable.
Because of its fairly non-specific symptoms, Hashimoto’s disease is often misdiagnosed as depression, bipolar disorder, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or an anxiety disorder. It is important to get the right tests and the right diagnosis so that you can start treatment and regain your health. Most doctors use the TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test to screen for thyroid disorders. This test, however, only tells how well the pituitary is “talking” to the thyroid, rather than measuring thyroid hormone activity in the body. For Hashimoto’s patients in particular, the TSH is a poor indicator of thyroid health because TSH levels can be normal when the thyroid is under attack by antibodies due to the release of stored thyroid hormone by the damaged and dying cells. This can be very frustrating for patients because the lab results are not an accurate indicator of the patient’s thyroid health.
Because Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, there may, but not always, be increased levels of specific antibodies to thyroid proteins. Thus, your doctor should check thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody and antithyroglobulin antibody. If these are elevated, the diagnosis is made. If they are normal, however, it does not mean that you do not have Hashimoto’s or inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis) causing your symptoms because there can be a number of other causes of inflammation that does not involve the TPO or antithyroglobulin antibodies. Most Endocrinologists and doctors are unaware that there can be inflammation of the thyroid even if the TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies are negative and all the standard blood tests look normal. Undiagnosed Hashimoto’s is particularly common in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. For instance, a study published in The Lancet performed thyroid biopsies in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and found that 40% had inflamed thyroids. However, less than half of those with biopsy proven thyroiditis were positive for TPO or antithyroglobulin antibodies. When the patients were treated with thyroid, their symptoms improved even if they had a normal TSH and the antibodies were negative.
Doctors at Holtorf Medical Group are specially trained to recognize and treat even the most complex thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. We can help you deal with the symptoms of Hashimoto’s -, and can even help you slow the disease or halt it in its tracks. Our innovative treatment options can help you get off the energy rollercoaster and get your life back on track.