Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune condition which attacks the thyroid, is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed or overlooked conditions because many of its symptoms mimic those of other disorders. This makes it hard for those suffering with the disease to actually identify and treat the problem. Understanding the symptoms of this condition can help you get the diagnosis and treatment you need from your family doctor.
What Is Hashimoto's Disease?
Also called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, this condition is one in which the body's autoimmune system attacks and slowly destroys the thyroid gland. Since the thyroid is responsible for managing many of the body's natural functions and organs, it is a far-reaching and sometimes debilitating condition when not diagnosed.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are many symptoms of Hashimoto's disease, and since they can resemble those of other conditions, it is often one of the last things tested for. Understanding the symptoms, and how they correspond to each other, may make it easier for you to request testing, if you believe you're affected by it.
The most prominent symptom that defines Hashimoto's is the presence of a goiter, which is swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland. It's a small gland located just below your Adam's apple, and when it swells, it can cause your neck to appear larger.
In addition to this, you may also experience overwhelming muscle soreness and fatigue. Even a walk up the stairs may feel like you've run a marathon. You may also notice your heart rate fluctuating with occasional palpitations. This can lead to respiratory disruption where you struggle with breathing and feel like you're out of breath frequently.
You may find that you are particularly sensitive to cold, persistently tired, and gaining weight despite your efforts to the contrary. Inflammation and pain in your joints can also develop, causing persistent discomfort.
How Is Hashimoto's Treated?
The key to treating Hashimoto's disease is determining the root cause. It can be triggered due to family history, a severe infection, and even pregnancy. Once you've determined the root cause and treat it, if possible, the effects on the thyroid should be addressed by supplementation with a thyroid hormone.
In addition, many patients find that eliminating dairy and/or gluten from their diets makes a difference with the inflammation and the level of antibodies in their systems. Your family doctor can help you determine which path is right for you and how to help manage your symptoms.