There are 2 common conditions of the unhealthy thyroid glands- hypothyroidism and the autoimmune hypothyroidism. These are the most common problems among American people. Though there are cases of hyperthyroidism, the underperforming thyroids are the majority.
The problem with hypothyroidism and the autoimmune condition is that they basically have the similar symptoms. The most common autoimmune thyroid condition is Hashimoto’s disease where the body immunity is destroying the thyroid cells, making it inactive. This results in low production of the thyroid hormones. The symptoms would be the same as hypothyroidism which is the underperforming thyroids with low levels of thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism Vs Autoimmune Hypothyroidism
The general hypothyroidism is a condition that you can treat. The affected person can any day regain the healthy thyroids with proper care. On the other hand, the autoimmune hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease is a ‘disease’. It is also a destructive disease that destroys the thyroid cells. The only similarity is the end result- low thyroid hormone production. Only the reason differs from one another. Because of this similarity, people may not immediately relate the low thyroid symptoms to the autoimmune condition. Still, you can find a difference with closer observation.
The Low Thyroid Symptoms
The common low thyroid symptoms to look for are
- constantly feeling fatigued
- weight gain
- feeling cold
- dry skin, lifeless hair
- constipation and fluid retention
These are the common signs of hypothyroidism. These are a result of low thyroid hormone level that stalls the metabolic activities, leading to these problems.
Low Thyroid Symptoms And Autoimmune Condition
These are not the only symptoms of hypothyroidism if it is a result of an autoimmune condition. The low thyroid symptoms may indicate an autoimmune condition when it has all the above signs and the additional ones like,
- Enlarged thyroid glands or goiter
- Feeling discomfort in the neck area
- Swollen neck or feeling sore
- Rarely, there could be breathing problem as well
- There could a juggling between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
Among these, only the enlarged thyroids can be common with autoimmune hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease. Though there are dew tests to diagnose this autoimmune condition, it is not easily assumed to be. Unless the patient already has a known family history of thyroid problems, the most likely diagnosis would be hypothyroidism. The treatment would also be suitable for this condition.
Why There Are No Significant Symptoms Of Autoimmune Condition?
The autoimmune hypothyroidism has one sure symptom of enlarged glands. This enlargement can only be minute that may not be visible. If the affected person has only a slight enlargement, it shows no other symptoms. The symptoms start showing only when the thyroids slow down in its functions. This is when the hypothyroidism symptoms start showing. A person could have an autoimmune condition for the thyroids and can go longer without showing any symptoms.
If the thyroid enlargement is larger, it can show discomfort in the neck area. Until then, only a scan can show the enlargement or a blood test to show the number of particular antibodies in the blood. If anybody has a family member with a thyroid problem in the past or present, they need to be extra cautious.
Treating The Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions
In reality, there is no treatment for the autoimmune thyroid condition. This condition is an overactive immunity that is destroying its own cells. You can only control the condition and lower the symptoms. The treatment methods include,
- Medications to shrink the glands are one of the common treatments. Sometimes this can fail to shrink the glands. In that case, apart partial removal of the glands would be the only option.
- Treatments are uncommon unless the thyroid glands are not performing well.
- Another option is a preventive treatment that reduces the antibody production and lowering the inflammation in the thyroids. This can help prevent the development of hypothyroidism in such patients.
- Supplements with selenium and iodine are another way of treatment.
- When the autoimmune condition develops into hypothyroidism, the treatment method is the same as hypothyroidism, like, hormone therapy and medications.
Other Treatment Method For Thyroid
People who are vulnerable to autoimmune thyroid conditions may not develop the disease as mandatory. As with the cases of other autoimmune conditions, there is a trigger that starts the problem. If you already know that you are vulnerable, start with dietary changes. Gluten can be a villain for you. A gluten-free diet can lower the antibody production and control the occurrence and spread of the disease.
People who already have any other autoimmune disease like celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, or have a past history of Grave’s disease- the autoimmune hyperthyroidism after childbirth are vulnerable to the autoimmune thyroid conditions. They must go for regular checkups and follow the gluten-free diet, no smoking or alcohol etc as precautionary measures. For them, the best treatment is prevention.
An underactive thyroid might be common but that associated with an autoimmune condition is not. Since the symptoms could be similar and can happen gradually. Blood tests are done once or twice a year is the best way to keep track on the problem. Since the autoimmune condition itself has no significant symptoms, you need to be prompt with the low thyroid symptoms, to get faster recovery.