Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid gland. It causes the thyroid to become swollen and leads to the thyroid not producing hormones as it should.
That being said, Hashimoto's disease does not have particularly unique signs and symptoms. Symptoms typically include hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), thyroid damage, and a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. It progresses slowly over a number of years.
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary tremendously and you may attribute many of them to something other than Hashimoto's disease or other hypothyroid conditions. In fact, you may just feel you are aging or growing more sluggish due to other health factors. Some of the symptoms of hypothyroid conditions including Hashimoto's disease include but are not limited to:
Fatigue and sluggishness
Increased sensitivity to cold
An elevated blood cholesterol level
Unexplained weight gain - occurring infrequently and rarely more than 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
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
Pale, dry skin
A puffy face
Without treatment, signs and symptoms gradually become more severe and your thyroid gland may become enlarged (goiter). In addition, you may become more forgetful, your thought processes may slow, or you may feel depressed.
As with any condition, you should pursue medical treatment if you are feeling out of sorts or more run down than usual. Be aware of dry skin, a puffy, pale face, hoarseness and constipation.
Hashimoto's disease is most common in middle-aged women and tends to run in families.
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Aimee Boyle is a mom, teacher and writer. She contributes weekly to EmpowHer.