Fitness Facts: Hashimoto's thyroiditis

By Lily Limon
Family nurse practitioner, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic

Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Well that was a mouthful! But what does it mean, and how can it affect me?

Yes, you would be right to assume it relates to your thyroid, and with the -itis ending, that it refers to an inflammatory process (good job, nursing and science majors).

This is one of the most common thyroid problems. According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million people in the United States are affected with some form of thyroid disease, and an estimated 60% are unaware of their condition. It is also estimated that one in eight women will develop some form of thyroid dysfunction in their lives.

This is the reason for awareness, as we all have a woman we value in our lives. But men also can be affected. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, “Hashimoto’s disease is at least eight times more common in women than in men … often appears between ages 40 and 60 … and chances of developing increases if family members have the disease.”

Let’s explore some symptoms.

Many people with Hashimoto’s disease have no symptoms at the beginning, but with slow progression, their thyroid gland — the butterfly-shaped gland in their neck — may become enlarged. This is called a goiter. Some people say it can look swollen, and they feel a sense of fullness in their throat, though it is not always painful.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease states, “As hypothyroidism progresses, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble tolerating cold
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and problems becoming pregnant
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • A slowed heart rate

The cause of Hashimoto’s is unknown, but it is suggested that it may result as a dysfunction from a combination of genes and an outside trigger, such as a virus that brings on the thyroid disease.

If untreated, Hashimoto’s can contribute to high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. Rarely, it may lead to myxedema coma, an extreme form of hypothyroidism, which can be life-threatening.  If any of these symptoms develop, you should see your primary care provider. They can order blood work and possibly an ultrasound of your thyroid if any abnormalities are felt in the physical exam.

If you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your doctor may monitor you and your thyroid function, and if determined that it is not working optimally, you may be given a thyroid hormone replacement called levothyroxine. This medication is identical to the hormone your thyroid normally makes.

Blood levels will need to be taken until the optimal amount is detected in your system. If you have Hashimoto’s, you should also be aware of what foods to avoid. Your normal thyroid produces iodine to help make the body function normally. It has been noted that individuals with thyroid disorder may be overly sensitive to iodine, which is found in kelp, seaweed, dulse, iodine supplements and some types of cough syrup. Eating foods with iodine may make your condition worse.

There also has been a proposed link between artificial sweeteners and Hashimoto’s. A 2015 survey by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists found 53 out of 100 people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis used artificial sweetener. The more sweetener they used, the lower their thyroid hormone levels were. In one study, a woman’s condition was completely reversed by her quitting use of artificial sweetener. That is food for thought, for sure.

So if you or someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms, please have them see their primary doctor/provider.

***

Sources:

American Thyroid Association, general information 

Hashimoto’s disease, National Institute of Health-National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Calendar

Calendar of Events

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

S Sun

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

6 events,

3 events,

2 events,

0 events,

3 events,

3 events,

3 events,

3 events,

2 events,

0 events,

0 events,

2 events,

5 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

2 events,

0 events,

0 events,

GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/