Are you tossing and turning much more at night than usual – unable to drift as easily as you could before to Nod’s land? Is your skin drier and scalier than usual? Or maybe you experience a relentless tiredness – so getting through the day feels like a constant struggle against tiredness? If so, you might be witnessing a few of the warning signs of Hashimoto’s disease – which EverlyWell’s Thyroid Test can help detect.

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition which affects your thyroid gland, resulting in a variety of troubling symptoms. And with your immune system, it all starts.

Most of the time, the immune system is an impressive line of body defense. It protects you from microbes and other dangerous particles that you want to be lethal. But, to be exact, the immune system can revolt in some people – those with autoimmune diseases – by ruthlessly attacking the body instead of defending it. And there’s an autoimmune disease that’s particularly menacing because it targets the thyroid gland – a part of the body that is very essential for your well-being. That autoimmune disorder is Hashimoto’s disease (mentioned above) – and it is the main cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. (Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid can’t produce enough hormones that the body requires for good health.)



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Hashimoto’s disease is most prevalent in women – at least 10 women have Hashimoto’s disease for every man that does – and becomes more likely as your age increases. It’s also largely the result of genetics, although one’s environment can certainly shape the risk of getting this disease.

If you have Hashimoto’s disease, your immune system slowly obliterates your thyroid gland – impairing the function of this vital body part. But this is one sneaky-and-insidious disease: the destruction of your thyroid doesn’t happen all at once, so it might take time before you notice any symptoms. However, symptoms will usually surface eventually, so read on to discover what these symptoms are – as well as how Hashimoto’s disease can be detected.



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HASHIMOTO’S SYMPTOMS

Some of the very earliest symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease resemble those of hyperthyroidism – where your thyroid ejects too many thyroid hormones into your bloodstream (giving your body a thyroid hormone overdose). Why are symptoms of hyperthyroidism often the first to occur if you have Hashimoto’s disease?

Here’s the reason why: as parts of the thyroid gland are destroyed, it leaks out an excess amount of thyroid hormones. Thus, thyroid hormones can initially flood your bloodstream – resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

For example, these symptoms include increased anxiety or nervousness, an irregular heartbeat, and increased heat sensitivity. You might find, too, that it’s really, really hard for you to fall asleep at night.

But then these hyperthyroidism symptoms disappear – which may seem like a lucky stroke! Remember, though, that Hashimoto’s disease is insidious and crafty – and not to be underestimated. Indeed, the reason why these symptoms of hyperthyroidism go away is quite disturbing: the disease has damaged your thyroid so much that it no longer produces any (or very small amounts) hormones. And when the thyroid reaches that state, another symptom attack appears – this time mirroring the hypothyroidism symptoms.

In contrast to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid can’t produce enough hormones – disrupting your body’s metabolic balance. When caused by Hashimoto’s disease, symptoms of hypothyroidism can initially include a feeling of perpetual tiredness (and those early-morning cups of coffee can’t so easily kick this fatigue to the curb), constipation, weight gain, and drier, more scaly skin than usual.



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And as your body starts facing the full brunt of hypothyroidism, symptoms such as cold sensitivity, hearing loss, heavy voice, energy loss, and hair loss can develop. Also, your nails might become much more brittle – chipping easily under circumstances they normally wouldn’t have. Joint pain and muscle weakness could be experienced – as well as depression. You may even have a slow speech and a loss of good coordination of muscles. High blood pressure can also occur as a result of the hypothyroidism induced by Hashimoto’s disease.

This is all sounds rather alarming – without a doubt – so it’s best to stop Hashimoto’s disease in its tracks as soon as possible, before it continues its ruthless rampage against your thyroid. But Hashimoto’s disease must first be detected before it can be tackled and treated. Fortunately, this disease leaves clues in your blood – clues that take the form of distinct molecular markers (which can be spotted with EverlyWell’s at-home Thyroid Test).

DETECTING HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE

HORMONS THYROID AND TSH

If you’re in good health – no Hashimoto’s disease getting in the way of your well-being, for example – then your thyroid will secrete hormones in response to signals from another hormone: thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. TSH circulates in your blood; high levels of TSH tell your thyroid that your body needs more thyroid hormones – and then your blood is filled with hormones by the thyroid. In turn, these hormones communicate with various parts of your body – allowing your body to perform a vast number of coordinated, balanced metabolic processes.

But if and when Hashimoto’s disease comes along – and “eats” away at your thyroid – your body will ultimately have a dire lack of thyroid hormones. So, in response, TSH levels shoot up – the body’s desperate attempt to tell the thyroid that you aren’t getting enough of its important hormones. Thus, if you have Hashimoto’s disease, you’ll have low thyroid hormone levels and elevated levels of TSH (this can be revealed with EverlyWell’s Thyroid Test).

However, this is typical of hypothyroidism in general – which can also result from iodine deficiency, among other factors – so detecting Hashimoto’s disease requires looking for another marker, as well. That marker is the antibody for thyroid peroxidase, or TPOab.

ANTIBODIES THYROID PEROXIDASE

Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOab) are key signs of Hashimoto’s disease. Why? Because if you have Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system uses these antibodies – TPOab – to attack the thyroid gland. So if TPOab is detected in your blood – with EverlyWell’s Thyroid Test, for example – along with low thyroid hormone levels and high TSH levels, there’s a strong likelihood that you may have Hashimoto’s disease.



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(Of course, if you have symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease and/or have abnormal thyroid test results, consult your primary care physician for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis.)