Thyroid Conditions and Hashimoto's Disease
If you search for thyroid conditions you will find a lot of information about this group of diseases but not very much information on how important thyroid function is to the human body and how it affects your lifestyle if something goes wrong.
Hashimoto's disease is more likely to affect women than men. This disease inhibits the thyroid is producing enough hormones to keep your body functioning, it slows down the process making it difficult for your body to function at an optimal level.
Thyroid conditions can be hereditary but not always so you may have a thyroid condition and not know about it. The disease can go undiagnosed after childbirth and can sometimes have other autoimmune diseases that coincide with it such as vitiligo, type 1 diabetes, lupus and anaemia.
A blood test may show a problem with the thyroid function but it is also advisable to have a scan of the neck to check for any nodules or any other growth on the thyroid gland. Sometimes difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat may signal a thyroid problem.
My Vitiligo Has Progressed
Since the photo at the top of this article was taken in 2015, my vitiligo has progressed at a rapid rate. My hand now has no pigment at all and my arm up to my elbow has no pigment either. Both my hands and arms are affected. My legs from the knee down are 80% affected by vitiligo as well. I never go out in the sun without 50+ factor sunscreen and I always wear a hat and sunglasses if I'm out in the sun for extended periods. I have accepted the fact my skin is now chronically white with the effects of vitiligo.
Camouflage Your Vitiligo
Symptons of Hashimoto's Disease
An underactive thyroid (commonly known as Hashimoto's disease) causes fatigue and lethargy because if you don't have the right balance of thyroid hormones your heart, brain and metabolism can slow down. One of the main reasons people with thyroid diseases fluctuate between losing and gaining weight is because part of what the thyroid does is to control how the body turns food into energy.
Many people with Hashimoto's disease complain of a 'fogginess' in the head and not being able to think clearly. This is due to being unnaturally tired. Exhaustion becomes a part of life and everyday stresses can be exacerbated by the extreme fatigue. Even sleeping for more than eight hours a day doesn't help with the exhaustion. This can lead to depression, over- or under-eating and extreme irritability. All of which is not much fun for the person with the disease—nor others around them.
Thyroid diseases affect more women than men as previously stated, and although the reason for this is not known, it may explain why some women experience fatigue without even realising they have a thyroid problem. There are so many other reasons women will explain away their fatigue; work, home, menstruation issues, family stresses, caring for elderly family members and generally busy lifestyles.
Women who are suffering from unexplained extreme tiredness should have their thyroid gland checked. By 'extreme fatigue' I mean not being able to function during the day even though you have slept well, your diet and exercise routine is reasonable and there are no other health concerns that could be causing these symptoms. In fact, anyone with extreme symptoms should be checked.
It Was Years Before I Was Diagnosed
I went through years of exhaustion before I found out I had Hashimoto's disease, but once I was diagnosed and placed on Thyroxine I wished I had done something about it earlier. I do feel tired at times but not to the extent I did before I was diagnosed, so my advice is go and see your doctor if your symptoms are extreme and affecting your quality of life.
Treatment for Hashimoto's Disease
Two main hormones are produced by the thyroid gland, thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3) and it is when these hormones are not balanced that symptoms may appear. It is important to see a practitioner who specialises in thyroid conditions as they will be able to determine the right form of treatment.
Treatment may be in the form of tablets, radiation therapy or if necessary surgery. If you are placed on tablets it is often Thyroxine, which is a synthetic hormone, and you will have regular blood tests to check your T4 and T3 levels. Many people find Thyroxine helps keep the more severe symptoms under control.
If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition your medical practitioner will explain exactly how to take any medication for optimal results. For example, Thyroxine should be taken half an hour before food and it is best to avoid calcium and iron-rich foods until two hours after taking the tablets. Many people take their medications with breakfast but in the case of Thyroxine it may be easier to take it at night so you don't eat or drink something that may interfere with the drug's efficiency.
It is important to discuss any changes to your routine with your practitioner first so they can monitor your progress with six weekly blood tests. Once the thyroid levels are normal you can simply take the tablets at your chosen time.
The main aim is to reduce the extreme exhaustion so you can return to a full and active life.
Read More From Patientslounge
Exercise May Help the Tiredness
Energy levels are affected when you have Hashimoto's disease, so when your thyroid is underactive you will find the motivation to exercise will be lacking. This adds to the issues of weight gain with this disease.
If you are diagnosed with Hashimoto's it is wise to start an easy exercise routine to help improve your energy levels. There will be days when you will just be so tired all you will want to do is sleep but try not to do that, you will only feel worse. Oversleeping can be just as bad as not having enough sleep. It is when feel the most tired that you need to do some exercise, even if it's a short 15-minute walk.
Short forms of exercise daily seem to help energy levels when you have Hashimoto's Disease but you will slowly be able to increase the time you exercise as energy levels increase.
I try to exercise three times a week. As I'm not an exercise fanatic I do try and vary what I do so I don't become bored with exercising. Take things easy at first, you will find your energy levels again and be able to manage the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease.
More Information About Thyroid Conditions
- Hashimoto's Disease | Office on Women's Health
Hashimoto's disease, or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's disease affects more women than men.
- Australian Thyroid Foundation
If you need information about thyroid disease, this Australian foundation can help. There is sensible information about the disease and how to manage it.
- Hashimoto's Disease | MayoClinic.com
This comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment and causes of this thyroid gland inflammation.
- Thyroid Australia Home
A voluntary organisation providing information about thyroid conditions.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Maria Giunta
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 19, 2015:
Hi Swissmom, unfortunately the answer to your question is no, not in my case. The vitiligo progresses by me being out in the sun so I always wear sunscreen. Having low thyroid problems doesn't alway mean you will get vitiligo and vice versa, it is just that some people (like me) get both. I have asked my specialists why, but there is no clear answer as everyone's immune system is different. I wish you luck in controlling the vitiligo and I do hope your thyroid is ok.
Swissmom on August 16, 2015:
My dermatologist whom I have seen for my vitilago has suggested I go get blood tests for my thyroid (as I present with other textbook Hashimoto's symptoms as well). I shall be making this appointment this month.
Did you find that the progression of your vitilago was in any way slowed by your treatment for Hashimoto's?
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on November 25, 2013:
Hi FlourishAnyway and thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Sometimes it takes a few different doctors before you find the right one that understands your symptoms. I've found that taking my tablets correctly (half hour before eating and no dairy until 2 hours later) and doing moderate exercise has helped. I could have done without the vitiligo but that's life isn't it? I wish you luck with getting the right diagnosis.
FlourishAnyway from USA on November 25, 2013:
This was not only informative but also interesting, as I appreciated the personal perspective that you added. I have thyroid issues but was told to just exercise; I have a crappy GP. You've motivated me to change doctors and go get retested.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on January 28, 2013:
Thanks AliciaC, I do hope this hub will help people suffering Hashimoto's and other thyroid conditions, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 23, 2013:
Thank you for this informative and interesting description of Hashimoto's disease, MPG Narratives. I'm sure that it will be useful for many people!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on January 23, 2013:
@Pamela99, thank you for your comment and vote, much appreciated. I do hope this information is helpful to others because Thyroid disease can go undiagnosed and as we age it can become harder to live with.
@BkCreative, I hadn't heard about the link between fluoride and Thyroid disease, I will have to investigate this further. Thanks for reading and taking the time to make an informative comment.
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 22, 2013:
This is interesting about thyroid disease. I live in NYC and recently I read that there is a relationship between thyroid disease and the fluoride in our water supply. Fluoride is also found in toothpaste. I don't know how true this is but I do know that fluoride is toxic so it can't be beneficial. I've gone back to buying bottled water in the hopes of varying my poisons. It seems water filters and pitchers do nothing to eliminate fluoride. Thanks for a well written hub.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 22, 2013:
This is an excellent, very informative hub. You covered this disease thoroughly and I'm sure many people will learn about a disease that you really hear little about otherwise. Voted up and useful.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on January 22, 2013:
Thank you prasetio for commenting and it's always nice to hear from you. I'm glad you were informed with this hub and I hope I have helped people who suffer from it to learn more as well.
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 21, 2013:
Very informative hub. I had never heard about Hashimoto's Disease before reading this hub. Still doing awesome work I see and useful for us. I learn something new here. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!