Hashimoto’s Disease | Symptoms and Test
Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Your thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that primarily regulate metabolism. When it is under attack it cannot function properly and this disease often leads to an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s Disease is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid in the United States.
Read on learn the symptoms and common tests for Hashimoto’s Disease.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease are typically the same as those of hypothyroidism. They include:
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- Memory lapses
Risk Factors of Hashimoto’s Disease
There are several factors that can increase the odds of Hashimoto’s Disease, these include:
- Sex: women are much more likely to have Hashimoto’s disease.
- Age: while it can occur at any age it is more prevalent in middle-aged people.
- Heredity: If another member of your family has Hashimoto’s Disease or another thyroid or autoimmune disease you are more likely to get it.
- Other Autoimmune diseases: if you already have another autoimmune disease your risk increases.
- Radiation exposure: research shows that people who have been exposed to high levels of environmental radiation are at higher risk of Hashimoto’s Disease.
How To Get Tested For Hashimoto’s Disease
There are a number of different tests that can be done to test hormone levels and antibodies associated with the thyroid gland. These are primarily blood tests and will require you to go into a lab to have blood drawn.
However, you can skip the doctor’s office and get your lab oders online by meeting with an online doctor here. Our doctors specialize in treating thyroid conditions and can go over your symptoms with you during your online appointment.
After discussing your condition with the doctor they will refer you to the lab closest to you and order you the proper blood tests.
Some common blood tests to test for Hashimoto’s Disease are:
Thyroid Antibody Tests
People with Hashimoto’s disease have antibodies in their bloodstream that attack the thyroid. If such antibodies are found in the blood, it can indicate Hashimoto's thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid disease (the most common types of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism).
TSH Thyroid Tests
Analyze blood for thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH), it is the most sensitive and accurate thyroid test. It is typically done first or along with T4 and T3 tests. If there is too much TSH that indicates underactive thyroid, too little TSH indicates overactive thyroid.
T4 Thyroid Tests
T4 is a hormone in the bloodstream produced by the thyroid. High T4 concentration in the blood is usually indicative of an overactive thyroid, whereas low T4 is indicative of an underactive thyroid. This is not always the case however, as higher T4 levels can be found in pregnant woman and women taking oral contraceptives.
When T4 gets distributed through the bloodstream, it binds to proteins. A number of medicines and illnesses can lower the amount of carrier proteins in your blood, affecting apparent T4 levels. Because of this, some doctors prefer free-T4 thyroid tests.
Free-T4 Thyroid Tests
While some T4 binds to proteins, others don't. This is called "free-T4". Measuring the free-T4 can give a better indication of hypothyroidism.
T3 Thyroid Tests
Sometimes T4 tests are normal even if there is a thyroid issue. If your doctor has reason to believe a thyroid is overactive in spite of normal T4 levels, they will look at T3 levels to better inform their diagnosis.
After you get tested your results can be sent electronically back to the PlushCare doctor who will then either diagnose and prescribe you medication, or refer you for follow up tests.
Upon diagnosis your PlushCare doctor can prescribe the necessary medication for your thyroid condition and have it electronically sent to the pharmacy of your choice, making getting your medication simple and convenient.
When your prescription runs out, meet with a PlushCare doctor again to get a prescription refill.
Living with a thyroid condition doesn’t have to be hard. Take the first steps today and meet with an online doctor to go over your testing and treatment options.
Read More About Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism Testing
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