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Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Jill R. Schofield, MD -  - Autoimmune Disease and Dysautonomia Practice

Center for Multisystem Disease

Jill R. Schofield, MD

Autoimmune Disease and Dysautonomia Practice located in Denver, CO

In the United States, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism. Dr. Schofield at the Center for Multisystem Disease regularly screens for this disease as patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are at a higher risk for other autoimmune diseases and for autoimmune dysautonomia. To learn more about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the symptoms it may cause, call the office in Denver or book an appointment online.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland. As a result, cells in the gland are destroyed and inflammation develops, which may lead to an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism.

Women are eight times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis than men. In most cases, the symptoms first appear between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can occur in teens and young adults.

Am I at risk for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

You’re more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis if you have another autoimmune disease or a family history of autoimmune disease. The opposite is also true: You have a higher risk of developing another autoimmune disease if you already have Hashimoto’s.

These are a few of the autoimmune diseases most often associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:

  • Antiphospholipid syndrome, which causes blood clots in arteries and veins
  • Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth  
  • Celiac disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

All of these autoimmune diseases and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affect multiple body systems, which may lead to many different symptoms. Additionally, autoimmune diseases may be complicated by the presence of other systemic diseases such as dysautonomia and mast cell activation syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

The hormones produced by your thyroid gland regulate your metabolism, growth, and many body functions. Although Hashimoto’s may result in an underactive thyroid, when the disease first attacks, the gland may respond by producing more thyroid hormones.

Your initial symptoms may resemble hyperthyroidism, so you may experience:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive hunger
  • Insomnia

As the thyroid gland suffers more damage, you may begin to develop signs of hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormones:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Constipation

Some people also develop a goiter when their thyroid gland becomes enlarged.

How is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treated?

The primary treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is to replace your thyroid hormones if they are low. Dr. Schofield first tests your hormone levels to determine your initial dose, then she’ll continue to monitor your hormones to see if your dose should be adjusted.

Dr. Schofield also talks with you about dietary and other lifestyle changes to promote ongoing wellness to reduce your risk of developing another autoimmune disorder.

If you develop any signs of a thyroid problem, call the Center for Multisystem Disease or book an appointment online.

 

Click here to watch Dr. Schofield discuss IVIG Therapy for Autoimmune Dysautonomias