Monday, September 12, 2011

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis What Is It?

 Before I begin today's blog I would just like to remind people. I am a patient who suffers with the diseases that I am trying to share an understanding of. The information that I am sharing is made from notes of my initial research in trying to understand my diagnosis'. I kept mostly to highly trusted sites such as the Mayo Clinic, Web MD, Cleveland Clinic, RAWarrior etc. What I am sharing is my interpretation of my research. Facts as I understand them to be.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

 In my last post I had decided that it would be helpful for me to provide some background information with regards to my illnesses. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that results in having hypothyroidism. It is common for people with Hashimoto's to develop Hashitoxcosis which is a combination of Hashimoto's Disease and Graves Disease (which is hyperthyroidism which is the polar opposite of hypothyroidism). Hashitoxcosis is a combination of both diseases with symptoms that swing back and fourth between the two polar opposites. Talk about a body in confusion! Luckily the Hashitoxcosis is something that does not last and your symptoms will return to Hypothyroidism and stay consistent.

There are many different ways for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis to be diagnosed. I was under investigation for MS at the time. I had spoken to a friend of mine who suggested that my symptoms sounded a lot like hers and that I should have my thyroid checked. I laughed because I have had my Dr. run thyroid tests yearly since the birth of my daughter in 2002. By this point I had under gone more tests trying to pinpoint the cause of all of my symptoms and I was grasping at straws. I mentioned it to my Dr who decided this time to do an ultrasound of my thyroid. The ultrasound revealed a cyst on my throid at which point my Dr. ordered a thyroid scan and uptake and more specific blood work than just checking my TSH levels. A diagnosis of Hashimoto's quickly followed.

 Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis which is when, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. The resulting inflammation often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), As with any auto-immune the symptoms vary according to the individual but here is an outline of basic symptoms related to it:

Chronic Fatigue
Increased sensitivity to cold
Brain fog, difficulty concentrating
Pale, dry skin
A puffy face
Hoarse voice
An elevated blood cholesterol level
Unexplained weight gain — occurring infrequently and rarely exceeding 10 to 20 pounds, most of which is fluid
Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in your shoulders and hips
Pain and stiffness in your joints and swelling in your knees or the small joints in your hands and feet
Muscle weakness, especially in your lower extremities including heart failure
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
Hair loss, dry and brittle
Numbness, tingling and burning in your extremities and face/head
Carpel Tunnel

I was truly amazed at how complex this whole thing is and just how sever the symptoms can be when it has been left untreated.  You can be symptomatic all the while falling into "normal ranges" in your blood work. Had I known all those years of having him check my TSH levels I would have pushed for a through screening of titers etc.  The more I learn I have realized that most sites you get information from dumb it down to the point where they only discuss a few symptoms and they minimize the impact that it has. This appears to be very common when it comes to Auto-Immune Diseases. I was so confused and yet excited at the same time. I thought that this was the answer to all of my problems and even better I can take synthetic thyroid hormone and everything will go back to normal.

I was so happy to get to the bottom of my health issues. My family Dr. pushed and made it clear that this was not all that was wrong with me. My symptoms were too severe for my numbers. I was unconvinced but agreed to continue seeing specialists until we got to the bottom of things as long as he would agree to treat the Hashimoto's so that we could get those symptoms removed and see if the remaining symptoms left us with a clearer picture of what was wrong. We started treatment immediately, slowing increasing the dose each month. Initially I had more energy than I had had in months but that didn't last long. In fact the only symptom that it took off my plate was my hair falling out. I am glad that he insisted that we needed to keep going until we got to the bottom of things. He was clear my symptoms were very concerning and made referrals to Mount Sinai in Toronto which is a teaching hospital and has a wonderful and amazing Auto-Immune/Rheumatology Clinic.

Due to the Hashimoto's Disease I was more likely to have an additional auto-immune disease. It is rare that an individual with an auto-immune disease has just one. Although one is more than enough for anybody! I had previously had RA and Lupus ruled out by another Rheumatologist in early February. The Dr. that I had seen at the time ordered a small handful of tests looking for inflammation markers. He had explained the one test the Anti-CCP was going to cost me $70-$90. When I went to the lab they did not charge me. I asked if they were sure they were doing the correct test as I was told to expect to pay between $70 and $90 depending on the lab. They told me that there was no longer a fee associated to the test and that the Dr. was incorrect. When I went in for my results I was told they ran the wrong test but that all of my other numbers looked good so there was no need to re-order that test. 5 months later it was the Anti-CCP test that provided the diagnosis of RA along with my newly developed rheumatoid nodules and symptoms. I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is common with Irritable bowel Syndrome which I have had for 22 years and auto-immune diseases, although it is not an auto-immune disease itself.

Also interesting to note that often people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Anxiety Disorders often have Hashimoto's!

I hope this explanation of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has provided a little insight into one of the auto-immune diseases that I have.

You might notice that a number of the symptoms listed overlap with numerous other auto-immune disorders. For me there is certainly an overlap between the three diseases I have been diagnosed with.

Do you have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis? Other Auto-Immune Diseases? More than one? If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Please feel free to leave comments or questions.

© 2011 Rhonda

1 comment:

  1. I had hypothyroidism for quite some time and I had many terrible side effects. But after 4 years of taking natural thyroid supplements, i was able to manage my condition well