Hashimoto's at Twenty-Three


Hashimoto's word cloud
Disclaimer: This is from personal experience and research. I am not a licensed physician and you would not want me to be.

When I was about twelve years old, I started having headaches almost daily. Sometimes I woke up with them, but most of them happened halfway through the school day. It happened so frequently I couldn’t just go home any time I had one. I eventually complained to my mother that it was too much and I wanted it to go away. So she took me to a doctor to see what may have been causing it.
After being stuck with needles, it was determined that I had hypothyroidism. I had never heard of it before, and all I really understood at the time is that it made me feel sick and fat. From that day forward I took a pill every day, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
Now that I’m 23 and recently had a child, my thyroid levels have been all over the place. Further testing revealed that I had developed Hashimoto’s. Upon learning this, I realized that my illness is a little more serious than I had considered.
I am currently making efforts to maintain this illness best I can, and learning about it and how it works is key. How does someone get this disease? How can someone maintain it? Here is what we know.

 What is a thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the bottom of your neck near the top of your breastbone. Most people don't even know it exists! The thyroids mission is to produce hormones that regulates many of your bodily functions. Your metabolism, digestion, muscle control, brain and even your bones depend on the TSH your thyroid produces.

What is Hashimoto’s?

At first I had your regular, run of the mill hypothyroidism. Basically my thyroid was underactive, meaning that it runs slower than a healthy thyroid would. After my pregnancy, my thyroid levels had gotten even lower, and after narrowing down the causes, the doctors diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Disease. This is also referred to as autoimmune thyroiditis.
Discovered in 1912 by Japanese surgeon Dr. Hakaru Hashimoto, this autoimmune disorder is one of the most common. An autoimmune disorder happens when your immune system mistakes something that is supposed to be in your body for something dangerous. It sends antibodies to attack, like it would if you had an illness. In my case, my body seems to think my thyroid is stranger danger and is working to get rid of it, which is bad news for my health and for me. 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary from person to person, and can often be mistaken for other illnesses. If you think you have Hashimoto’s, get tested! This is something that you want to fix so you can live your fullest life. Some symptoms include, but are not limited to:

·      Headaches
·      Weight gain
·      Anxiety/Depression
·      Hair loss/Dry hair
·      Fatigue
·      Memory loss/Brain fog
·      Dry Skin
·      Muscle Aches
·      Cold Sensitivity
·      Neck swelling caused by enlarged thyroid
·      Mood swings
·      Infertility
·      Puffiness in face
·      Constipation

The list of symptoms is long and covers a wide range of issues. Having these symptoms doesn’t always mean you are hypothyroid. If you develop it at a young age like I did, it’s sometimes harder to diagnose because this usually happens to older women. I personally pin my own anxiety symptoms on my thyroid, and hopefully with proper treatment it will go away with all the other symptoms (bye bye anxiety!)

How do I develop Hashimoto’s?

When a person is hypothyroid it is usually because they are deficient in iodine. Many people stay hypothyroid for a long time without it turning into Hashimoto's. Sometimes Hashimoto’s develops over the years. If you have it, it’s more than likely that you were genetically predisposed to developing the disease. In my case, Hashimoto’s developed during my pregnancy. Having a baby throws EVERYTHING out of whack, and it seems my thyroid has taken most of the heat. My thyroid levels were constantly tested, and even after I had the baby they were still a lot lower than when I had started. 

How is it treated?

When I asked the doctor, they told me my only option is to take TSH replacement hormones in the form of a pill. I’ve been doing this already since I was 12, but now that there are different issues, I am still adjusting my medication. Once it is balance I am usually written about a year’s prescription and have to check in every year to make sure I am still on the right dosage.

What can I do to help treat it naturally?

Right now I am researching how to treat Hashimoto’s naturally. There are claims that it can be cured, and I will be providing future updates as I look into this more. So far, things like cutting out gluten and avoiding specific vegetables (found that one a little weird) can help, as well as having a stable intake of iodine (but not too much!)

 Having Hashimoto’s Disease is a lifelong journey, but it’s nothing to fret about. This disease is extremely common and easily treatable. However, if it goes untreated for too long, you run the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders. It's hard to tell when your so young, but Hashimoto's can still happen to everyone, especially if you are female with a family history of the disease. It never hurts to check so you can take better care of yourself and live the life you deserve.


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