Identifying Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto's Disease is not easy to find. There are rarely any direct symptoms of the disease, although the damage it causes to the thyroid does bear several distinct symptoms. The severity of the symptoms will vary depending on the effect Hashimoto's disease has had on the thyroid.

Since Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder it is not easily identifiable. It is the under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism, that is first noticed. Basically when someone has Hashimoto's Disease the body's immune system makes antibodies which damage the thyroid gland. Generally, the antibodies are generated in the body to fight viruses and other intruders. However, Hashimoto's Disease is a disorder and an imbalance in the system and the immune system attacks the thyroid gland in the process.

The thyroid gland produces many hormones. The delicate balance of hormones produced keeps the body functioning properly. As the antibodies attack the thyroid it stops making the proper hormones to keep the system balanced and working. It becomes under active. When the thyroid does not perform properly, other parts of the endocrine system kick in and try to help it out. The pituitary gland begins to stimulate the thyroid to encourage it to create more hormones. This causes the thyroid to enlarge. Sometimes tit is so large that it becomes a goiter that is visible.
Hashimoto's Disease progresses very slowly over years and causes much damage to the thyroid. This chronic damage is what the symptoms indicate. Many times these signs of hypothyroidism are the indication of the seriousness of Hashimoto's Disease. By the time it is diagnosed the damage has been done. One good note is that once it is found it is easy to treat. Simple hormone replacement reduces symptoms.

The symptoms of an under active thyroid gland may go unnoticed or disregarded due to age as the onset is usually about mid life. Fatigue or sluggishness are some of the more common symptoms. Unexplained weight gain, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness also begin around mid life and are many times attributed to aging. These are also symptoms of hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto's disease.

Other symptoms may also include things such as an elevated cholesterol level or unexplained weight gain. There may be frequent bouts with depression or be more sensitive to cold temperatures. A puffy face, dry or scaly skin and a hoarse voice are also clues that there is something wrong with the thyroid.

Experiencing two or more of the symptoms listed above is good reason to check with a doctor. A simple thyroid test can tell whether or not there is the presence of Hashimoto's Disease.