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A Guide To Recognizing A Hashimoto’s Flare-Up
Hashimoto’s disease, a condition classified as an autoimmune disease, is one of the most common illnesses in the United States that causes the general adult population to suffer from a condition known as Hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that refers to an underactive Thyroid, which means the Thyroid gland in the patient’s body is unable to produce an adequate supply of certain hormones, including T3 and T4, to provide adequate support for the bodily functions and organs that depends upon these particular Thyroid hormones.
The Thyroid is an essential part of the human body that contributes to the overall well-being of the whole body, primarily through the regulation of metabolism. With impairments in the body’s metabolism, several problems can develop, including metabolic disorders.
When a person suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, it is vital that they understand that treatment is essential in order to support the function of the Thyroid and to reduce their risk of developing potentially harmful complications.
Recognize The Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Disease
A crucial piece of information for individuals who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease is the symptoms that this disease causes.
When a flare-up of this disease is occurring, it is vital for a patient suffering from Hashimoto’s to be able to recognize these symptoms as a link to their autoimmune condition, and to act accordingly.
Since the disease attacks the Thyroid gland; thus causing a reduced release of the T3 and T4 hormones produced by this gland, the symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s are the same as those associated with Hypothyroidism.
Patients who have been diagnosed with the disease should constantly be on the look out for the following symptoms1:
- Frequently experiencing symptoms associated with fatigue, such as tiredness and weakness. Sluggishness is another way to describe this set of symptoms that may develop when a Hashimoto’s flare-up has occurred.
- Since the Thyroid gland is involved in metabolism, a patient may experience problems with their digestive system, with constipation being a relatively common complaint amongst patients experiencing a Hashimoto’s flare-up.
- The skin may also start to look pale and puffy, as well as become very dry.
- Hair loss is another common symptom that should not be ignored when a patient suffers from Hashimoto’s disease. This symptom may be a sign that the patient is experiencing a flare-up of the disease.
- Some patients tend to experience sudden weight gain without increasing the amount of food they consume daily and with no other explainable reason. This is due to the effects that the Thyroid has on metabolism – a reduction in Thyroid hormones leads to impairments in the body’s metabolism.
- In many patients, muscles may become sore, stiff and tender. Muscles may also start to feel weak. Similar symptoms may develop in joints, which can lead to a reduced range-of-motion in the affected joints.
- Brain function may also be impaired at some level, which can lead to memory lapses. Some patients also tend to experience episodes of depression when they develop a Hashimoto’s flare-up.
- Amongst women, another common symptom includes more intense menstrual bleeding during their menstrual cycles. Their menstrual cycles may also be prolonged.
Should You Call Your Doctor?
Sometimes, the symptoms may present themselves in a mild way, which means they may not be a call for concern.
At times, however, the symptoms caused by Hashimoto’s disease may be a sign that the disease is progressing or causing more extensive damage, or perhaps that the current treatment is not effective enough in assisting with reducing the damage that the disease is causing to the Thyroid gland, as well as that the current treatment is not providing the body with an adequate supply of T3 and T4 hormones.
Firstly, if you are experiencing these symptoms and have not been diagnosed with either Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease, then it is crucial that you pay your doctor a visit. These symptoms are not always a sign of these two diseases, but can also be a sign of another condition as many of these symptoms are associated with other health ailments.
Thus, you should consider contacting your doctor and making an appointment if you experience these symptoms and are not sure what the underlying cause is – your doctor can order a series of tests, including blood tests to test your Thyroid hormones, and better determine what condition is causing your to experience these symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease previously and start to suffer from excessively dry skin, continue to be tired all the time, find that you are constipated most of the time, then it may be a good option to make an appointment with your doctor to determine if your condition has worsened and to provide you with an adequate adjustment to the medication you are taking to alleviate these symptoms.
Are You At A Higher Risk For Hashimoto’s Disease?
Individuals experiencing the symptoms we have listed above, but not diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease or an underactive Thyroid, should learn about the risk factors associated with these conditions. This will help them better understand whether or not they may be at a higher risk of suffering from this disease.
A doctor may also request a medical report about the patient in order to determine if they meet any one or more of the risk factors associated with Hashimoto’s disease during the diagnosis.
The National Institutes of Health explains that there are several factors that can increase the likeliness of a particular individual to suffer from Hashimoto’s disease. The first risk would be if a patient is already suffering from another type of autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional conditions that may also contribute to a higher risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease include:
- Addison’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Pernicious anemia
What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease?
In addition to knowing about the risk factors associated with Hashimoto’s disease, it is also a good idea to educate yourself on the issues that can cause the disease in the first place. It should be noted, however, that scientists are not yet fully sure what exactly causes the development of the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s.
Some links have been made at this time, but further research is still required for scientists to provide a more accurate description on the cause of the disease. Current links that have been made, signaling potential causes of Hashimoto’s disease, include:
- Hormone balance – Some evidence have suggested that female sex hormones may play a role in the development of Hashimoto’s disease. The disease is much more prevalent amongst women – affecting around seven times more women than men. It is also known that approximately 20% of women who experienced problems with their Thyroid after giving birth, later on, develop Hashimoto’s disease.
- Exposure to radiation – A link has also been made between radiation exposure and Hashimoto’s disease2. The disease seems to be more prevalent amongst patients who have obtained radiation therapy to treat Hodgkin’s disease, a type of blood cancer, as well as those exposed to radiation from atomic and nuclear events.
- Genetics – There also seems to be a genetic factor that affects the risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease. Specific genes have been associated with the likeliness of developing Hashimoto’s disease, as well as the severity of the disease. These includes genes for protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor-type 22, vitamin D receptor, ccytokines, cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 and cytokines3.
- Excessive levels of iodine – Iodine is an essential trace element that the Thyroid requires to produce T3 and T4 hormones. When Iodine is consumed in excessive amounts, however, then problems with the Thyroid may develop4. Medical experts have found that this particular issue can contribute to the development of Hashimoto’s disease.
Treatment Options For Hashimoto’s Disease
One of the most unfortunate facts to learn after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease would be the fact that this autoimmune disease is considered incurable. This, however, does not mean you have to suffer from the symptoms – medication is available to assist with regulating the level of T3 and T4 hormones in the body, as well as to help alleviate the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
In the majority of cases where a patient has developed Hashimoto’s disease, the continuous inflammation that occurs within the Thyroid eventually leads to the development of Hypothyroidism.
The most common form of treatment that a healthcare professional will offer a patient after they have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease would include a synthetic drug that replaces the hormones naturally produced by the Thyroid.
This treatment option would only be offered to the patient once a TSH test has been conducted, which helps the doctor determine whether the Thyroid’s ability to produce an adequate supply of hormones have been impaired or not.
The most common type of synthetic drug used to treat Hashimoto’s disease is known as Levothyroxine5. The drug supplements the body with a synthetic type of thyroxine, also called T4, which is a Thyroid hormone. Levoxyl, Levothroid and Synthroid are popular brand names that include Levothyroxine as an active ingredient and is used to treat Hypothyroidism and the symptoms caused by Hashimoto’s disease.
It is vital for a woman to obtain adequate treatment after being diagnosed with this disease. An annual checkup would also be required to determine whether the Thyroid hormone levels in the woman’s body has been further affected by Hashimoto’s disease.
Should changes be detected in an annual checkup, the healthcare provider will adjust the dosage and type of drug utilized by the patient accordingly. Women should realize that symptoms caused by this disease will not clear up naturally and that not obtaining treatment will cause them to experience a worsening in the symptoms they experience.
Several factors can affect the function of the Thyroid gland, with Hashimoto’s being one of the most common conditions to cause impairment in the Thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones. Hashimoto’s disease can cause similar symptoms as Hypothyroidism.
It is vital to know about the symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s disease, and to realize what symptoms may signal a flare-up of this disease.
Consulting with a doctor when the symptoms become more serious is also important for adequate adjustments to be made to your dosage or medication to assist with relieving the symptoms and allowing you to get back to living your life.
1 Hypothyroidism. PubMed Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022776/
2 Gregory A. Brent. Environmental Exposures and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. Thyroid Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 20 July 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935336/
3 Katja Zaletel and Simona Gaberscek. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: From Genes to the Disease. Current Genomics Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 12 December 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3271310/
4 Foley T.P. Jr. The relationship between autoimmune thyroid disease and iodine intake: a review. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 1992. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1345585
5 Dana L. Mincer and Ishwarlal I. Jialal. Thyroid, Hashimoto Thyroiditis. StatPearls, NCBI Bookshelf. 16 November 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459262/