Have you heard of Hashimoto’s? It is an autoimmune condition that is linked to your thyroid health but also to your immune system and is a lot more common that we might think. In the USA Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, and affects about 5 people out of 100.1 (I don’t have figures for Ireland, if anyone does I would love to see them).
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that affects your thyroid functioning and sadly the stats show that women are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s than men, and while it is usually women between the ages of 40 and 60 that get diagnosed, it can occur in teens and young adults2 . Hashimoto’s is where the immune system create antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, over time as the thyroid gland gets damaged symptoms of an underactive thyroid appear.
Initially the symptoms of having Hashimoto’s maybe mild and go unnoticed, however as it progresses so too do the symptoms, which are very similar to an underactive thyroid;
- Tiredness / fatigue
- Weight gain or unable to loose weight
- Feeling the cold alot more
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry, thinning hair and dry skin
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and problems becoming pregnant
- Low mood or depression
- Brain fog or memory problems
If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease there is a higher risk of you developing another autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, ceoliac disease, pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency anemia), or lupus and visa versa, if you have another autoimmune disease you could be at risk of developing Hashimoto’s.
From a women’s health point of view, Hashimoto’s can cause fertility issues if untreated or not treated correctly and also during pregnancy it is important to keep a regular check up in your blood tests and adjust your medication accordingly. This is a conversation you need to have with your GP and Endocrinologist and they will advise on what your blood results should be for fertility and during the different trimesters of pregnancy.
To get diagnosed with having Hashimoto’s you need your GP to take a blood test from you. The pharmaceutical management of Hashimoto’s is the same as treating someone with an underactive thyroid and that is to go on medication, synthetic form of the thyroxine hormone, thyroxine is referred to as T4 in your blood work and is the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland.
There are many lifestyle changes that you can start implementing into your daily routine that can help to support your thyroid, from the foods that you eat, managing stress, supplements, exercise, sleep and listening to your body and what it is telling you.
 Garber JR, Cobin RH, Garib H, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for hypothyroidism in adults: cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18(6):988–1028
 Caturegli P, DeRemigis A, Rose NR. Hashimoto thyroiditis: clinical and diagnostic criteria. Autoimmunity Reviews. 2014;13(4-5):391–397.