Hashimoto’s Syndrome - Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto’s Syndrome?

When your thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, doesn’t produce enough of its normal hormones, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s Syndrome, also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.

When you have Hashimoto’s, your immune system attacks and damages your thyroid. If there’s enough damage, your thyroid can’t make enough of its important hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which regulate metabolism in cells throughout your body. Similar to how a lightbulb can’t shine without electricity, your thyroid can’t properly produce thyroid hormones without iodine. As a result, this can slow many important body functions and make you feel unwell.

Hashimoto’s Symptoms

The hypothyroidism of Hashimoto’s disease is often mild and you may have no symptoms, especially early in the disease. As Hashimoto’s progresses, you may start to feel symptoms. The disease’s progress can be relatively quick or gradual. And it’s hard to predict which symptoms you could develop, because thyroid hormones affect every cell and organ of the body:
Tiredness

Low thyroid can make you feel exhausted, even if you’re sleeping as much or more than usual. You can also feel mentally tired and unmotivated.

Weight gain

When thyroid levels are low, metabolism slows and your body tends to store more calories from your food as fat. You can gain weight even with a good diet and plenty of exercise.

Constipation

Slowing your metabolism slows down activity in your colon.

Slowed heart rate

Your heartbeat also can be slowed down by hypothyroidism.

Feeling cold

Burning calories creates your body heat. When your metabolism slows, you burn fewer calories and produce less heat.

Joint and muscle pain

Low levels of thyroid hormone cause your body to break down tissues like muscle for energy. Muscle breakdown can leave you weak and achy.

Dry, thinning hair

Hypothyroidism causes hair follicles to generate more slowly. Since these cells normally have a short lifespan and rapid turnover, you may grow less hair.

Dry, itchy skin

Your skin cells typically turn over very quickly too. However, when they lose their growth signals from the thyroid, the outer layer isn’t replaced as quickly. This skin layer sticks around longer and gets more damaged by the environment.

Depression

This hasn’t been explained yet, but feeling sluggish and in poor health may affect your mental outlook.

Other symptoms

Since thyroid hormones are normally used everywhere in the body, you could also sweat less, sound hoarse, or have memory problems, high cholesterol, menstrual or fertility problems, or other issues.

Causes of Hashimoto’s

Anyone can develop Hashimoto’s disease, but it is at least eight times more common in women than men. Although teens and young women do get this disease, it’s more likely to appear in middle age, between 40 and 60. Having family members with Hashimoto’s, or having other autoimmune disorders yourself, increases your chances of developing Hashimoto’s.

None of this explains, however, why your immune system — normally excellent at telling friend from foe — would mistakenly attack your own healthy thyroid cells. Researchers have several theories about why autoimmune responses happen, but no real answers. Leftover inflammatory responses to infection, injury, certain types of cancer? Genetics? Stress? We don’t know how to prevent or cure autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s yet, but doctors can effectively treat the symptoms.

Diagnosis

There are several ways to diagnose Hashimoto’s disease:

Self-check. This is just a first step. In many cases of Hashimoto’s disease, the thyroid becomes enlarged and forms a swelling in your neck called a goiter, which you may be able to see or feel. Do a simple self-check to look for bumps, nodules, or enlargements in your thyroid area. If anything seems unusual, make an appointment to talk to your doctor.

Hormone tests.  A TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test measures how much of the thyroid hormone T4 your pituitary gland is asking your thyroid gland to make. Abnormally high TSH is a signal of hypothyroidism: the thyroid gland is being asked to make more T4 because there isn’t enough T4 in the blood. Other tests can directly measure the level of thyroid hormones circulating in your blood.

Antibody tests. In autoimmune diseases, your body produces unusual antibodies. There is a blood test that looks for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies. These antibodies attack TPO enzymes in your thyroid gland, gradually destroying it. If you have elevated TPO antibody levels, you likely have Hashimoto’s disease.

Ultrasound. An ultrasound provides images of your thyroid using soundwaves. Your doctor can use them to see if your thyroid is enlarged due to Hashimoto’s disease or to look more closely for other possible causes of your symptoms like thyroid nodules.

Hashimoto’s Syndrome Treatment

If Hashimoto’s disease causes thyroid hormone deficiency, you may need replacement hormone therapy. Treatments are designed to bring your levels into the normal range and reverse any symptoms of the deficiency. There’s no cure, but this disease can be managed to help you lead a normal, active life.

Treatment involves taking daily oral medication prescribed by your doctor, based on your needs, to replace what your body cannot produce on its own. One oral option is a synthetic version of T4 or, if this doesn’t relieve your symptoms, a combination of synthetic T4 and T3. Effective natural supplements containing both T4 and T3 can be extracted from pig thyroid glands (porcine thyroid).

How Belmar Can Help

Belmar compounds T3 and T3/T4 tablets in a variety of strengths. We also dispense a range of commercial options. We’re focused on ensuring your doctor has the right medication available to fit your specific needs, so you can enjoy the best health and lifestyle possible.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Syndrome or are concerned about any of the symptoms on this page, contact us for more information and start a conversation with your doctor. Together, you can decide if a compounded prescription might be a good treatment for you.

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If you’re a patient, we’re here to help you fill prescriptions or provide you the information you need to work with your doctor to help decide if a compounded prescription might be a good treatment for you.

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