Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease which mainly targets your thyroid functioning. Studies have revealed that this disease is the major cause of hypothyroidism. The hormones released by the thyroid are responsible for maintaining the body temperature, muscle strength, regulating the metabolism and many other functions of the body.
Risk factors for developing Hashimoto’s disease
Hashimoto’s disease is more common in women than men, especially pregnant women. The development of this autoimmune disease also depends on multiple factors like genetics, stress, diet, environmental influences, immunological factors, hormone levels etc. The other risk factors include type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, Addison’s disease and Graves’ disease.
Some inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, grains and food additives can also trigger this disease. Hence, it is good to consult a doctor if you are allergic to any of the above-mentioned foods.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease
This underlying autoimmune disease can take a long time to show up noticeable warning signs. Some of the major warning signs of Hashimoto’s include high cholesterol, dry, pale skin, hoarse voice, lower body muscle weakness, depression, fatigue, feeling sluggish, cold intolerance, thinning hair, irregular or heavy periods, problems with fertility, brain or kidney problems, neurological damage, constipation and bloating etc.
If left untreated some people can develop an engorged thyroid. This condition is termed as goitre and can result in the swelling of the neck. This as such causes no pain but can make swallowing extremely difficult.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease
Should your doctor suspect this condition, he or she may ask you get your thyroid levels tested? This is a simple blood test to determine the thyroid- stimulating hormone. TSH hormones are usually high when the thyroid activity is low. The other tests may include blood tests, to check other thyroid hormones like T3 and T4, to check cholesterol, to check antibodies like Thyroglobulin antibodies and Thyroid peroxidase antibodies. This will help the doctor to confirm your diagnosis.
Treatment 1 – Diet and Lifestyle changes
Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease varies from one person to the other. If your thyroid is functioning normally, your doctor might suggest you make changes to your diet and lifestyle. This may include: avoiding gluten or immune reacting foods, avoiding processed foods filled with sugars and preservatives,
Consuming gut healing foods, reducing stress, following detox methods, supplementing with herbs and probiotics etc.
Healing the gut is essential in order to treat Hashimoto’s. This includes intake of plenty of vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, high-quality omega-3 fats, high-quality protein etc. Fruits are considered healthy, but for this condition, it good to take more vegetables when compared to fruits in order to stabilise the sugar levels.
Bone broth is considered to be magical food to treat this disease. It is considered to be the top gut healing food. It repairs the lining of the small intestine and promotes its internal health. It also restores the autoimmune system and is considered to be completely safe. Taking in the form of stew or with vegetable soups twice or thrice a week can work wonders.
Treatment 2 – Medications for Hashimoto’s
If your thyroid is not making enough hormones, the doctor might put you on medications. The common drug used to treat such cases is Levothyroxine. All it does is it replaces the missing hormone called thyroxine. It is considered to have no side effects but the patient must continue to take this medicine for the rest of her life.
Taking the medicine regularly can stabilise the hormone levels. The symptoms will also disappear gradually. However, the doctor would recommend for regular follow-ups to monitor the thyroid levels, to adjust the dosage of medicines accordingly.
Other important things to consider
It is important to know that the absorption of levothyroxine can be affected by other supplements or medications. Some of the common products which interfere with this medicine are iron supplements, calcium supplements, cholesterol medications, estrogen, proton pump inhibitors, treatment for acid reflux etc. Hence, it is best to inform your doctor about any of your supplement intake or other drug intakes before taking this medicine.
Complications of Hashimoto’s
If this autoimmune disease is not treated on time, it can result in major complications like heart problems, heart failure, anaemia, high cholesterol, confusion, loss of consciousness, decreased libido, depression etc.
Hashimoto’s can have dangerous effects on pregnant women. Studies have shown that women suffering from this hormonal imbalance can give birth to babies with brain, heart and kidney problems. Hence, regular thyroid test throughout the pregnancy is crucial to avoid such fatal complications.