Hashimoto’s disease is one of many autoimmune conditions springing up in increasing numbers in recent years – the reason? Inflammation. We’ll be unpacking what this disorder actually entails, along with sharing 5 of the key signs and symptoms to look out for.
There’s an estimated 850, 000 Aussies living with Hashimoto’s disease, affecting 7.5% of women and 1.5% of men. This autoimmune disorder specifically affects the thyroid, and it comes about when our immune system targets this butterfly-shaped gland in our neck. Here's where the problem arises: this thyroid inflammation can result in a leak, which then leads to the overproduction of hormones – this is what’s known as hyperthyroidism – but with Hashimoto’s, we see a table-turning change over time. The thyroid eventually struggles to produce adequate levels of hormones, causing the development hypothyroidism. What you end up with is a host of debilitating and painful symptoms – we’ll be taking a look at 5 of them here.
1. An enlarged thyroid
A goitre, otherwise known as an enlarged thyroid, is a common sign of hypothyroidism and thyroiditis caused by Hashimoto’s, and these growths often develop as a result of inflammation. While you might be picturing that goitre scene from Seinfeld, it’s worth noting that you won't always be able to see a goitre, and they don't all result in symptoms – but just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there! So, if you’re dealing with any other symptoms on this list, it’s worth getting your thyroid checked out, even with the absence of a visible goitre. But there are a few notable signs to look out for:
- Swelling around the thyroid
- Throat tightness
- Difficulty breathing
Fatigue ranks pretty high as one of the most frequently reported symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease – and it’s also a fairly common sign of a wide range of autoimmune conditions, from lupus to multiple sclerosis. With Hashimoto’s, the fatigue is the result of thyroid dysfunction where we see a decrease in hormone production – specifically the thyroid hormones which are responsible for proper metabolism function. Women are disproportionately affected here, with a shocking 10:1 ratio of women to men, with a concerning trend for late diagnoses of the condition – in fact, women are usually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s between the ages of 30 and 50, which means the condition’s severity will have multiplied.
3. Unexplained weight gain
Many people with Hashimoto’s struggle with weight gain that can feel almost impossible to shift – some have done everything from eating healthily to exercising frequently, but see no change on the scales. The reason for this particularly stubborn weight gain is down to the thyroid – this gland plays an essential role in our metabolism, so when things go a little pear-shaped with its hormone production, we start to see some out-of-control changes to our weight. This dysfunction can impair our ability to burn fat, so if this is something you’ve been struggling with, it’s likely a thyroid disorder is at play. It’s worth noting that it’s not hopeless – there are medications that aid with balancing hormones, along with diet and lifestyle changes that can reduce inflammation, and therefore increase your chance of combatting this frustrating symptom.
4. Bowel movement dysregulation
If you’ve been noticing bloating and constipation more frequently lately, Hashimoto’s could be to blame. The reason for this is that the hormonal imbalances often have a known-on effect on your whole body, so you’ll find a range of functions start to slow down, including your digestive system. Constipation happens when your stool has stagnated in the colon for too long, causing it to harden and dry up. The result? Stool that becomes difficult to pass. So, if you’ve been having a hard time getting things moving, you’re not alone – but it is a sign something’s amiss with your gut and digestive system, and it could be linked to your thyroid.
5. Cold sensitivity
Feeling a little colder than usual lately? If you’ve starting noticing it’s hard to stay warm or you’re frequently feeling the chill more than your friends, it could be a sign of Hashimoto’s. As we’re starting to see, the thyroid plays a range of essential functions for our body, and that includes temperature regulation. When your hormones are thrown off balance, you’ll find it harder to get used to the cold – when compared to people with adequate thyroid hormones, people with Hashimoto’s struggle to convert and use energy as effectively as they should. It, once again, comes down to this lack of thyroid hormones.
Other signs of Hashimoto’s disease include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Heavy periods
- Low mood
- Slower heart rate
Keen to reduce inflammation and reduce chance for autoimmune disease? It all starts with what you put on your plate – and what you keep off it. Sugar is a known inflammatory substance, responsible for triggering or worsening a host of conditions, from obesity to eczema. That’s why we’re here to help. Join us for the 8-Week Program where we’ll be quitting sugar and turning our health dreams into a reality. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to JOIN NOW!