Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disease where your own immune system produces antibodies that attack and destroy your thyroid gland.
Thyroid Gland is located at the front of the neck and is attached to the lower parts of the larynx and to the upper parts of the trachea. Sketch and Photo by Selina Shapland
Your thyroid is vital for regulating your metabolism, and an under-active thyroid, called hypothyroidism is a fast growing condition in western society.
The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that control the cells in your body, your metabolism, your growth and your development.
If your thyroid does not receive enough iodine on a regular basis it can become deficient, which is how I came to have hypothyroidism. The hormone levels drop and this in turn effects the body's metabolism, slowing things down and bringing on feelings of fatigue.
I have both Hashimoto's Disease and hypothyroidism.
In the early stages of hypothyroidism I only noticed that I was tired most of the time. Then I started to gain weight even though I hadn't changed my activity level very much. Of course, being tired did impact my ability to exercise as often as I once did, but I was still pretty active at the time.
I found myself falling asleep at odd times of the day and feeling fatigued more than I thought was normal. Then I began to have funny hypoglycemic episodes where my blood sugar dropped suddenly and I would get dizzy and feel nauseated.
My blood pressure dropped lower than it already is and I had heart palpitations which came and went. This was when I went to my doctor and found out through a blood test that my thyroid was showing signs of under-activity.
Then after a scan around my neck area they found I had goitre. At the time, I didn't know what goitre was. I almost fainted when I Googled it, as all home medical enthusiasts do, only to see a woman with a thyroid glad that was so swollen that she looked like a bull-frog.
My throat. Thankfully my thyroid is not so swollen that it can be seen externally. I am very grateful that this was diagnosed early. Photo by Selina Shapland
My doctor placed me on a natural thyroid supplement to help my body take in the iodine that was needed, but the fatigue kept up. Six months later I was on Thyroxine which is the drug they give you to keep your thyroid stable and active. It really does help, but it takes time to build up in your system.
However, even after all this, I was still incredibly tired. That's when the doctor took more blood tests to find out if I had an autoimmune disease, which I did.
That was when I found out about Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I don't know if it has a cure, but I do know that it can be managed through lifestyle changes.
Until this happened, I had no idea how important this little gland in my throat was.
Apparently, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Disease are becoming common mostly among women in Australia. That's a bit of a worry.
If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, make sure you get your doctor to do two blood tests. One for thyroid function and one for the level of autoantibodies in your blood.
Here's the list of symptoms that I have researched and know about (from personal experience):
Weight gain for no apparent reason
Lack of interest in eating - decreased appetite
Increased sensitivity to cold, especially hands and feet
Slow, weak pulse
Goitre (enlarged thyroid) - this isn't always present and you can't always tell that your thyroid gland is swollen
Poor concentration, memory and a foggy brain feeling
Loss of interest in sex
Dry skin and hair
Pain in your wrists or ankles, much like Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Aches and pains in your muscles and bones (this really does hurt and a good sleep often helps me)
Puffiness around the eyes
I'm sure there may be more symptoms that your medical practitioner will know about, but these are the symptoms I am most familiar with.
As I said, these conditions can be managed through lifestyle changes, such as listening to your body and resting when it says so, fitting in regular exercise but not thrashing yourself, and choosing healthy foods.
Personally, I have to have iodised salt. I never used to eat much salt as I considered it to be bad for my health, however, as it turns out, iodised salt is great for my health. It's great for getting the iodine to my thyroid gland and the salt helps keep my low blood pressure stable. So, there always seems to be an exception to the 'healthy for you' rule.
I also have Hashimoto -no, I am border line and my doctor keeps giving me blood tests and I am always borderline!
However i only have one of the symptoms you mention and that is I feel the cold terribly -others have short sleeves and i have thermal underwear on and am still cold.
Thanks for the article Selina -interesting...
I have had Hashi's for many years but was unable to tolerate Thyrxoine. I have been able to keep it under control mostly with lugols iodine and diet. It's not 100% better, but certainly more manageable than it was.
Yes, Hashimoto's is quite common these days. I will need to try lugols iodine and see how things go. I find the fatigue the biggest challenge to deal with. Sometimes I don't know how I will make it through the day because of the feeling of walking through thick molasses. And then other days I am super energised. It feels very random.
Great to connect with you Tracie. Thanks for commenting. I hope things improve for you too.
Nice article Selina. There is a higher than average incidence of this where soils are iodine deficient (e.g. Maitland, Newcastle regions). Also, the teats on milking machines in dairies were once cleaned with an iodine solution which seeped into the raw milk. This was actually a good thing for the population, but more 'modern' methods have stopped this practice, hence, there are more cases showing up in Oz. I suspect that a few drops of iodine in your milk with morning cereal or smoothie might be an effective alternative for you (but you would need to check this with a naturopath and your medical team). You may also need to avoid 'brassica' veges such as cabbage as they inhibit the absorption of iodine. I'm a biomedical scientist and health & lifestyle writer. More info at: http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iodine
Thanks so much for that comment. I truly appreciate it. Sometimes wading through all the information is overwhelming, so I totally appreciate this advice. I will look into the iodine in my milk. I never knew that they used to wash the machines with iodine solution. I've learned so much from your response.
I'll check out your link too.
Thanks for putting it up.
Hi Thanks for this info. I've had a thyroidectomy (both thyroids removed) and am on Thyroxine. I took a drop of ioidine in my milk before the op and that ended up with complications after just a few days, so check with your GP before you add iodine to you diet if your thyroid glands are affected. I have to supplement with a serving of salmon at least twice a week and 3 brazil nuts daily.