How Untreated Hashimoto’s Disease Can Lead to Other Autoimmune Diseases

Hashimoto’s Disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland – causing a deficiency in the production of essential thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s Disease has a wide range of symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions, so it is often missed or misdiagnosed.

But recent medical research has revealed that it is crucial to understand the potential consequences of untreated Hashimoto’s Disease, as it can increase the risk of developing other very serious autoimmune disorders.

In this article, Austin, TX thyroid specialist Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD explains the nature of Hashimoto’s Disease and its causes. And she explores the link between Hashimoto’s and various autoimmune conditions, including lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Pernicious anemia.

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own thyroid gland. This leads to inflammation and gradual damage to the thyroid, impairing its ability to produce essential thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and overall bodily functions. Hashimoto’s Disease is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid or “hyperthyroidism.”

What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease

The exact cause of Hashimoto’s Disease still remains unknown. However, doctors believe it may result from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Individuals with a family history of autoimmune disorders are more susceptible to developing Hashimoto’s. Environmental triggers such as viral infections, exposure to certain chemicals, and chronic stress may also play a significant role in initiating the autoimmune response that attacks the thyroid.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease manifests with various symptoms that can affect each individual differently.

Many individuals with Hashimoto’s experience persistent fatigue and a lack of energy, even after getting adequate rest. This fatigue may interfere with daily activities and contribute to a sense of overall sluggishness.

Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight can also be a common symptom of Hashimoto’s. The slowing of metabolism due to an underactive thyroid can lead to weight fluctuations or an overall tendency to gain weight.

Hashimoto’s can disrupt the body’s temperature regulation, as well, as making individuals more sensitive to cold temperatures. Patients may feel cold more easily, even in situations where others are comfortable. Changes in hair texture and dry, brittle hair are frequently observed in individuals with Hashimoto’s. Skin may become dry, rough, and prone to itching or flaking.

Hashimoto’s can also impact mood and mental well-being. Individuals may experience depression, anxiety, irritability, or brain fog. These symptoms, however, are often attributed to other causes such as menopause or other hormonal imbalances.

Diagnosing Hashimoto’s Disease

Recognizing Hashimoto’s Disease can be challenging as the symptoms can overlap with other health conditions. If you suspect you have Hashimoto’s, it is essential to consult a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX for a proper evaluation. She can conduct thorough testing to measure thyroid hormone levels, thyroid antibodies, and perform a physical examination to assess the size and condition of the thyroid gland.

These diagnostic tools, coupled with an assessment of symptoms, can help determine whether Hashimoto’s Disease is the underlying cause.

Hashimoto’s Disease Link to Other Autoimmune Disorder

Untreated Hashimoto’s Disease can have far-reaching consequences beyond thyroid dysfunction and it’s symptoms. The chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation associated with Hashimoto’s can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, including lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Pernicious anemia.

Lupus affects multiple organs and tissues, causing inflammation, joint pain, skin rashes, and fatigue. And untreated Hashimoto’s Disease can potentially increase the risk of developing lupus.

Hashimoto’s Disease has also been associated with an increased likelihood of developing Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition characterized by joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Both disorders share many common autoimmune mechanisms, and untreated Hashimoto’s may contribute to the development of RA.

Hashimoto’s Disease can also trigger Addison’s disease, a rare autoimmune disorder affecting the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce vital hormones, and when damaged, they result in symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances.

While Hashimoto’s Disease causes an underactive thyroid, it can paradoxically lead to the development of Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder causing hyperthyroidism. Individuals with Hashimoto’s may experience fluctuations in thyroid function, eventually leading to the overproduction of thyroid hormones characteristic of Graves’ Disease.

More recently, pernicious anemia, a condition in which the body lacks sufficient vitamin B12, has also been linked to Hashimoto’s Disease. The autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland may also affect the stomach’s ability to produce intrinsic factor, a protein necessary for B12 absorption, potentially leading to pernicious anemia.

Diagnosing & Treating Hashimoto’s Disease

Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD, a renowned functional medicine doctor and thyroid specialist, offers years of expertise in diagnosing and treating Hashimoto’s Disease – to relieve symptoms, restore health, and to prevent the development of further autoimmune problems. With her comprehensive understanding of the underlying factors contributing to autoimmune disorders, Dr. Harper takes a personalized approach to patient care, focusing on the root causes of Hashimoto’s and its potential impact on overall health.

Through extensive diagnostic testing, Dr. Harper aims to accurately identify Hashimoto’s Disease and its associated factors. This includes assessing thyroid hormone levels, thyroid antibodies, and other relevant markers. By understanding the specific imbalances and dysfunctions within the immune system and thyroid gland, she tailors treatment plans that address the unique needs of each individual.

Dr. Harper’s treatment approach for Hashimoto’s Disease focuses on optimizing thyroid function, reducing inflammation, and supporting the body’s natural healing mechanisms. She may recommend dietary modifications to address nutrient deficiencies or sensitivities and provide targeted supplementation to support thyroid health and immune function.

Additionally, Dr. Harper emphasizes the importance of addressing lifestyle factors that may contribute to autoimmune disorders. This includes stress management techniques, optimizing sleep patterns, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins or triggers that may exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms.

Hashimoto’s Disease | Thyroid Specialist | Austin, TX

Early diagnosis, appropriate management, and proactive treatment of Hashimoto’s Disease are essential to minimize the risk of developing these additional autoimmune conditions and promote overall health and well-being. Scheduling a consultation with a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin is crucial for accurate diagnosis and comprehensive management.

By implementing her extensive knowledge of functional medicine principles, Dr. Ruthie Harper offers a comprehensive approach to treating Hashimoto’s Disease. Her goal is to not only alleviate symptoms but also prevent the development of further autoimmune problems by addressing the root causes and promoting overall health and well-being.

Patients who seek Dr. Harper’s expertise can expect compassionate and individualized care, as she works collaboratively with them to develop customized treatment plans. By combining evidence-based medicine with the principles of functional medicine, Dr. Ruthie Harper empowers her patients to regain control of their health and achieve optimal wellness while preventing the progression of autoimmune disorders associated with Hashimoto’s Disease.