Did you know that March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month? While Hashimoto’s is often treated like a thyroid condition, it’s actually an autoimmune disease – the first organ-specific autoimmune disease that was ever identified!
When you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland the same way it would attack bacteria and viruses. When your thyroid is being attacked by your immune system, it can’t do its job (which is to store and produce hormones that affect almost every bodily system). In the early stages of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you may experience both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms and your lab tests may still come back normal. Left untreated, you will ultimately go into a hypothyroid state and Hashimoto’s will continue to destroy your thyroid gland. In the worst cases, treating this autoimmune disease can require the total removal of all thyroid tissue.
Catching Hashimoto’s thyroiditis early is your best bet, but many of us spend years looking for answers before we finally get a diagnosis and begin treating our autoimmunity. That’s partly because awareness of autoimmune diseases and their symptoms is still relatively low. Many people have never heard of autoimmunity – though more are aware now thanks to the openness of Gigi Hadid and other celebs – and many doctors try to rule out every other possibility before even considering that the patient in front of them has an autoimmune disease. On top of that, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s in particular mimic so many other conditions that it’s not really surprising that doctors look at other possibilities first.
One of the most helpful things people who suspect they have Hashimoto’s or who have unexplained issues can do is learn the most common symptoms of the disease. When more people know the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, more people will be able to get their diagnoses early. That’s important because halting the progression of Hashimoto’s may be easier when you catch it early!
If you’ve ever experienced any of these Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms and you suspect you may have Hashimoto’s (or another autoimmune disease since many autoimmune conditions have overlapping symptoms), reach out to your doctor or another practitioner you trust to talk about your concerns and ask for the lab tests to confirm or rule out Hashimoto’s.
- Fatigue & sleepiness
- Aches and pains
- Cold sensitivity
- Pale, dry skin
- Brittle and/or thick nails
- Thinning, brittle hair & hair loss
- Unexplained weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Decreased sweating
- A puffy face
- Swollen hands & feet
- Hair loss and dryness
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland (goitre)
- In women, heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- Mental fogginess and forgetfulness
- Feeling excessively cold
- Slower than average heart rate
- Slower than average reflexes