Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland is not producing adequate hormones. This can be due to genetics, a traumatic injury to the neck or head, radiation, toxins or a disorder of the pituitary gland. Additionally, those with low iodine levels can develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, can cause elevated cholesterol levels, thinning hair and hoarseness, along with a plethora of other symptoms.
Hashimoto’s disease occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This autoimmune disease is the number one cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease generally affects women who are middle aged; however, it can also affect males and females of any age. Hashimoto’s disease can cause a puffy face, dry skin and depression.
Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism typically progress very slowly. For this reason, many patients attribute the symptoms to getting older; however, as the disorder progresses, the symptoms become more and more pronounced. Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism exhibit many of the same symptoms including:
– Unexplained weight gain
– Hoarseness due to anatomical changes in the thyroid and larynx
– Swollen or puffy face, due to excess fluid buildup
– Pale, dry skin that often flakes or cracks
– Depression and anxiety
– Increased sensitivity to colder temperatures
– Joint pain, stiffness and swelling, especially in the knees, hands and feet
– Muscle pain, stiffness and tenderness in the hips and shoulders
– Muscle weakness in the lower extremities
– Excessive bleeding or prolonged menstruation
– Fatigue that is present upon waking and continues throughout the day
– Slower metabolism rates
Although there are many similarities between Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism, there are also several differences. Hashimoto’s disease symptoms can go from one extreme to the other as different thyroid cells are attacked. For example, a patient may experience anxiety, faster heart rate and higher energy levels when the body dumps more hormones into the bloodstream. Conversely, when hormone levels decrease, the patient may experience a slower heart rate, fatigue and depression. Unlike Hashimoto patients, the heart rates in patients with hypothyroidism are generally always decreased.
Elevated cholesterol levels are more common in hypothyroidism than Hashimoto’s disease. Sufferers of hypothyroidism may experience thinning hair, while those with Hashimoto’s usually do not experience loss of hair. Hypothyroid patients often have impaired memory. Those suffering with Hashimoto’s disease often have enlarged noncancerous thyroid nodules. Finally, those with Hashimoto’s disease often have gluten intolerances, while those with hypothyroidism do not. It should be noted, however, that hypothyroidism patients should limit the amount of gluten they consume to protect against inflammation.
As you can see, there are many similarities, as well as dissimilarities between the two conditions. However, the main difference between the two is whether it is an autoimmune disease or a sluggish thyroid. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.
If you are suffering from the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease or thyroid disorders, call us at (571)529-6699 and seek a consultation with our thyroid doctor. She has helped hundreds of patients get relief from the symptoms of thyroid disorders.