Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of thyroid deficiency. As a practicing allergist, I would routinely palpate the front of the neck area around the windpipe where the thyroid is located. Every few months or so, I would feel an enlarged thyroid, order a high sensitivity TSH test, and, if positive, check for thyroid antibodies.
This saved my patients from having to go through the symptoms of underactive thyroid(hypothyroidism), since I detected the problem at an early stage, before symptoms developed.
Major symptoms of an underactive thyroid include fatigue, increased sensitivity to the cold, constipation, unexplained weight gain, and depression. Be sure to seek medical care if you are suffering from these symptoms.
An elevated LDL cholesterol is one of the biochemical results of hypothyroidism, and can lead to heart problems. I have been hearing that the routine physical examination it is becoming less common, and may even be replaced by telemedicine. The early detection of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will be one of the casualties, since the doctor can’t find an enlarged thyroid unless she palpates for it.
You might wonder why an enlarged thyroid gland is associated with decreased thyroid production. The way it works is that the pituitary gland at the base of the brain detects a decrease in thyroid production. It responds by secreting a thyroid stimulant, TSH. The TSH causes enlargement of the thyroid gland, leading to the association of an elevated TSH with decreased thyroid activity.
Hashimoto’s is one of the large number of autoimmune diseases. A person who has an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type one diabetes, or celiac disease, is more likely to develop others, and should be alert to that possibility.
Finding that you have low thyroid activity is only part of the problem. It takes several visits plus input from both patient and doctor in order to arrive at the proper medication schedule. There are several different thyroid medications, and people respond differently to them.
Be on the alert for hypothyroidism. It can sneak up on you.