As a sufferer of Hashimoto's, I feel that it deserves a page all of its own simply because it is a separate illness from hypothyroidism. It is also called Hashi's, autoimmune thyroid disease, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Hashimoto's is an actual disease while hypothyroidism is a condition.
It is an autoimmune disease and in its early stages, the sufferer does not actually have full blown hypothyroidism and usually their thyroid blood results are normal.
However, when a blood test is performed specifically for thyroid antibodies, you will find a distinct presence of them.
My daughter has also just been diagnosed with Hashimoto's (March 2011). She is just 17 years old and also has scoliosis.
This demonstrates how these conditions are passed down from mother to daughter.
Like myself, my daughter has been feeling unwell for over a year, possibly longer. She has suffered with IBS since she was very young, severe pms since the age of 14.
I actually suspected that she might have Hashimoto's around 2 years ago because of subtle personality changes.
Paranoia, low grade depression, over emotional, sometimes hysterical, repeated throat and ear infections, heavy periods, insomnia, severe mood swings, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, low stamina, feeling cold - that was how it all started.
She actually transformed from a happy energetic girl into a very unwell young lady in just over a year. stress may have triggered it - GCSE's, friendship difficulties, a new teenage relationship - who knows?
For me, it was history repeating itself. To a doctor, it was just being a teenager. I repeatedly suggested that they check her antibody levels. It was only when she had to be referred to a child psychologist for depression, that i began to get the ball rolling, so I have the psychologist to thank for that.
Clare refused anti depressants because she felt there was a lot more wrong with her.
So, what is actually happening to her at this stage?
Well, the immune system starts to attack the thyroid. It starts off slowly but will start to cause inflammation. It eventually causes complete destruction of the gland resulting in a hypothyroid state. This can take many years and a great deal of suffering and also in some cases, nodules or lumps on the gland.
The reason being that doctors do not treat autoimmune thyroiditis in its early stages, preferring to monitor the patient, until, inevitably, the thyroid stops working and they can then prescribe thyroxine because the patient is now clinically hypothyroid. At the end of the day, it is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in women and many do not even know that they have Hashimoto's because no one ever checks their antibodies - they may have been unwell for years before blood tests actually prove a hypothyroid state.
Some days, as in Clare's case, you may also feel very hyper. Yes, in Hashimoto's, you can be both hyper and hypo as the gland is gradually destroyed - the thyroid sometimes has busts of over producing thyroid hormone and therefore hyperthyroid symptoms may also be present such as palpitations, feeling hot, diarhoea sweating panick attacks, bursts of energy whilst also feeling very tired, restlessness, even mania.
The thyroid may also swell as it is destroyed causing a goitre, difficulty in swallowing and a feeling of choking. sound familiar? This is due to the thyroid cells inability to use iodine in thyroid hormone production, so the gland swells as a reaction to this.
Blood tests may be high one minute and low the next because of the swings between hypo and hyper and this may continue for many years.
In order to be diagnosed correctly, you must ensure that your GP or Endo carries tests for the 2 sets of antibodies, namely TPOAb
(Autoantibodies to thyroid peroxidase) and TgAb (thyroglobulin)
Due to the swings between hyper and hypothyroidism, many women are actually diagnosed incorreclty as having bi polar disorder. The condition affects mood and many undergo complete personality changes. It should be the first test done by your GP - antibodies.
It also needs to be insisted upon that you are very unwell and that you need the condition treated NOT monitored. Try explaining to them that if they acted now, your thyroid might be saved from total destruction. Most patients with Hashimoto's develope adrenal fatigue due to the amount of stress the body is under.
How can they treat it if blood tests are within range?
I have discovered that there are a few things that can be done in this case - a German study showed that small amounts of thyroid hormone can be given to try to halt the progression of the illness. So dont be afraid to speak up and discuss these options with your doctor. however, a combination may be needed such as combining an immunomodulator with a gluten free and diet and supplementing with selenium.
Giving up gluten - sticking to a coeliac diet may also help halt antibody attack.
Selenium has been shown to help reduce antibodies in Hashimoto's disease.
Immunomodulators - There are a few that can be tried - Kalawalla which is a plant has been shown to regulate the immune system in those with autoimmune disease. Bovine Colostrum in supplement form has also shown to modulate the immune system, boosting low immune systems and calming overactive one's such as ours.
finally, Low dose Naltrexone (LDN) which is the creme de la creme of immunomodulators. (if you can get it of course)
Please click here to read about it
They can email you with an information pack to show your GP and it is available on the NHS but not many doctors have heard of it as it is a relatively new drug. It can help all autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
You do have to become your own endocrinologist with Hashimoto's -you have to stay well informed because most doctors and endo's do not have a clue about Hashimoto's and I tell you that from experience of the disease myself and my battle to find help for my own daughter. I was ill for around 20 years while i was "monitored" and my quality of life was virtually zero - all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, some of hyperthyroidism, severe depression, severe period pains, feeling manic, suicidal and being told by doctors that I was just a tired mother.
I did not have a clue what was wrong with me and I was very frightened and alone. My first marriage broke up as my personality swings, non existant libido and paranoia became difficult to cope with, and all the time I could have been treated with something, but they were not prepared to try.
It is tantamount to neglect and abuse on behalf of the medical profession to leave a woman from the age of 27 until the age of 45 living locked in her own private hell, when they knew she had Hashimoto's Disease. I am not prepared to stand by and see that happen to my daughter.