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What causes Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland no longer makes enough thyroid hormone, or the hormone that it does make, does not convert to the active form or becomes blocked. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is the most common form of hypothyroidism. 95% of all patients with hypothyroidism have the Hashimoto’s form. This form is an autoimmune disease model in which the thyroid gland, the thyroid hormone or the binding site for the hormone all come under attack by your own immune system. This is the definition of all autoimmune diseases. 90% of all Hashimoto’s patients are females, and the disease causes a wide variety of symptoms. Most patients will start with fatigue that increases with time, anxiety and depression may soon follow. Physical signs include weight gain, dry skin, thinning and brittle hair, cold hands and feet and cold intolerance. Hashimoto’s is found with laboratory blood panels; however, symptoms may be present for up to a decade before the lab values are positive. Because of this, many Hashimoto’s patients are often misdiagnosed and are labeled with either depression, anxiety and/or bipolar disorder prior to getting a true diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism?
Per Web MD and many other sources, the primary signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:
What are the risk factors for developing Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism?
Per Web MD and other relevant resources, risk factors are as follows:
-Sex: Women make up about 90% of the population that have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism.
-Age: Usually Hashimoto’s affects women in their early thirties to late fifties.
-Heredity: While there has been no specific genetic genotype identified with this disease, it appears that it does run in certain families more than others.
-Other autoimmune diseases: Having another autoimmune disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type I Diabetes or Systemic Lupus can significantly increase your risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
How are you diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism?
The only way to get a full diagnosis is with blood testing. Most labs, including Quest and Lab Corp have extensive lab testing for the thyroid. It is important to know that a complete panel needs to be done…Not just a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). And remember, most lab testing is not positive for the first decade of symptoms. Seek a Functional Medicine or Functional Nutrition practice to make sure proper lab testing is done, and to be sure that all other measures to look for causation are explored.
How can you manage your Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism?
Test, test, test! Make sure you complete all necessary testing to diagnose the problem and find the root cause of the disease. Seek a skilled Functional Medical Practitioner or a Functional Nutrition Practitioner. These specific types of Practitioners will have the experience and skill sets to go beyond the diagnosis and look for the cause. Once the cause is identified, customized treatment programs are effective at reducing and/or eliminating the disease and its symptoms.
What are the complications of Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism?
Goiter: Constant stimulation of the thyroid gland will cause enlargement, and while usually not uncomfortable, it is disfiguring and can cause problems with breathing and swallowing.
Heart Problems: Hashimoto’s may be associated with increased risk of heart disease. Primarily because high levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), the bad cholesterol - can occur in people with under active thyroid glands or poor conversion of the inactive form of the hormone to the active form of the hormone. Left untreated this can cause an increase in the size of the heart and possibly even heart failure.
Mental Health Issues: Depression may occur early in Hashimoto’s disease and may become more severe over time. It can also cause a low libido and slow mental functioning.
Myxedema: This is a rare complication, but this can cause life threatening symptoms that include drowsiness followed by profound lethargy and unconsciousness.
Birth Defects: Children born to women with Hashimoto’s are at a higher risk of developing birth defects.