The Silent Illness - Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto's Disease has no definite symptoms. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's antibodies to attack the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland stops producing hormones that are essential for other body systems to retain balance and work properly. As Hashimoto's Disease continues to damage the thyroid, the body begins to show symptoms of hypothyroidism, or an under active thyroid.

As the immune system attacks the thyroid it begins to inflame. When it ceases producing enough hormones the pituitary gland tries to stimulate it to produce more hormones. This causes the thyroid to enlarge even more.

Hashimoto's Disease is a silent illness because it may be years before the true effects are obvious. It is a very slow progression that can cause much harm to the thyroid gland. The inflammation of the thyroid that is caused by the disease goes unnoticed simply because the symptoms are the same types of signs we experience simply because we age.

Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are things like achy or tender joints, fatigue, or even constipation. Since Hashimoto's Disease usually hits about mid life, the same time as signs of aging set in, they are not taken seriously by those afflicted with this disease.

Other symptoms to watch for include an increased sensitivity to cold temperatures, elevated cholesterol levels, depression and unexplained weight gain. There are a few easily discernable symptoms. These are visible signs like a puffy face or pale, dry skin. The audible signal that there is a thyroid problem is a chronic hoarse voice. Women may also experience excessive bleeding during their monthly periods. Many people who suffer from hypothyroidism develop a muscle weakness. This is usually only in the lower muscles of the body.

The thyroid gland is at the base of the neck. In extreme cases the gland swells enough to be visible. The inflamed thyroid shows up as a goiter. This is a rare occurrence. The severity of the symptoms depend upon the extent of the hormone deficiency.

Once the thyroid sends out the distress signal and Hashimoto's disease is discovered, it is relatively easy to treat. Thyroid hormone replacement is a treatment that is simple and effective. The solution is relatively easy; it is the diagnosis which is difficult to reach. Although the thyroid begins to send signals to the rest of the body Hashimoto's disease is silent and has no warning signs other than those of the under active thyroid.