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What Is Hashimoto’s Disease? When Your Immune System Attacks Your Thyroid

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 5 in 100 Americans. This disease affects the thyroid and is four to ten times more common in women than in men. Here’s a deeper look at what causes this condition, how it affects your entire body, and how our Functional Medicine office in Tennessee can help you. 

Ready for solutions to your thyroid problems? Start by watching our free Thyroid Disorder & Autoimmune Conditions webinar. 

What Kind of Disease Is Hashimoto’s?

Hashimoto’s disease, though relatively common, is often misunderstood. It’s not a condition that gets the kind of widespread media coverage as diseases like diabetes or cancer. So, if you haven’t heard much about it, you aren’t alone. Read on to find out more about what it is and how it develops.

Autoimmune Disorder

Autoimmune disorders are diseases that occur because your immune system isn’t working in the way it should. Also called autoimmune hypothyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease happens when your immune system reacts to your own body as if it were the enemy. 

It’s important to note that people with one autoimmune disorder also have one or more others. This might not seem surprising. After all, it stands to reason that there could be other effects if the immune system is not doing its job correctly. Here are a few examples of other autoimmune disorders you might have if you have Hashimoto’s disease in your thyroid:

  • Celiac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus

You can learn more about the warning signs of autoimmune disorders from our Autoimmune Disease Symptom Checklist.

A Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is a gland located in the front of your neck. It is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that secretes hormones to control your metabolism. If you have Hashimoto’s disease, this gland is where the autoimmune attack happens. Too many white blood cells build up in the thyroid, causing damage to the gland. Consequently, your thyroid can’t make enough thyroid hormones, which leads to a cascade of other problems in every organ and throughout your body.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease infographic

In its job as a metabolism regulator, the thyroid affects your energy levels and anything having to do with them. In addition, there are other symptoms that seem less obviously tied to energy use. Here are some of the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease.

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Menstrual periods that are irregular or heavy
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Higher sensitivity to cold
  • Joint and muscle pain

Through the course of the disease, your thyroid might swell and become larger. A significantly enlarged thyroid is called a goiter, and this may cause you to feel a sense of fullness in your throat.

Sometimes, though rarely, Hashimoto’s causes the thyroid to release more of a thyroid hormone. When that happens, you may have symptoms of hyperthyroidism. In that case, you may experience symptoms that seem opposite of hypothyroidism, like:

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nervousness 
  • Increased appetite

Do you have symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease? If so, talking to a functional medicine expert is the best step to take next. Start your healing journey and reclaim your health at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine in Tennessee. 

Hashimoto’s Disease Complications

Once Hashimoto’s disease progresses, it can cause complications. With appropriate functional medicine interventions, these complications can often be prevented or reversed. Here are a few of the health problems that can happen later in the course of Hashimoto’s disease:

  • Heart disease or heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Myxedema, a condition that slows your bodily functions until your life is in danger
  • Complications of pregnancy

The sooner you seek treatment for Hashimoto’s disease, the greater your chances of avoiding these serious complications. 

Functional Medicine Approach to Thyroid and Autoimmune Disorders

Our Functional Medicine Tennessee clinic, as well as other practices that use the same approach, have a unique way of treating Hashimoto’s disease. This approach is based on several core principles, sound medical practices, and a customized treatment plan.

Functional Medicine Basic Principles

Functional Medicine favors holistic treatments that address the health of the entire body. This approach to whole-body health considers the way that every part of the body affects every other part. 

Another important difference is that it pays more attention to the root causes of thyroid diseases than traditional medicine. Functional Medicine seeks to find the root causes of the health problem and address them rather than focusing on symptoms.

Dr. Radawi, with outstanding medical credentials and a decade of ER experience, has a deep understanding and expertise in conventional medicine. However, with our doctor’s extensive training in Functional Medicine, we focus more on system biology and natural, holistic treatments. Examples include in depth functional labs and tests, nutritional guidelines, detoxification, supplementation, exercise and mindset.

Examinations, Testing, and Identification 

 Identifying the area of dysfunction in your bodyis our first major goal. Because the symptoms can vary, it is usually difficult for anyone other than an expert to be sure that they need treatment for Hashimoto’s disease. That’s okay. You don’t have to make that determination. Instead, take your concerns to our doctor at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine Tennessee 

Dr. Radawi starts with a consultation where you discuss your symptoms and talk about your current lifestyle. If our practice is a good fit for you we will schedule a physical examination, testing, and Dr. Radawi will begin formulating an individualized treatment plan…

It’s always best to seek help promptly, whether you strongly suspect a thyroid problem or just don’t feel good and want to know why. Your Functional Medicine Tennessee clinic offers a wide range of services for many different conditions.

Customized Treatment Plans

The next step in our program is for our team to design a customized treatment plan to meet your unique needs. Our doctor, along with our health coach , creates a detailed plan to address your Hashimoto’s disease and promote health throughout your body. 

In order to optimize your thyroid’s functioning, Dr. Radawi draws from all his experience and training as well as what he has learned about you to devise a customized plan. You engage actively in your treatment, too, following the doctor’s recommendations to heal from your condition and achieve your best whole-body health. 

Want to learn more about how functional medicine could help you with thyroid problems like Hashimoto’s disease? Take the first step:

  1. Watch our free webinar to learn about our approach to the health concerns you are facing.
  2. Schedule a Free Discovery Call to discuss your health concerns and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.
  3. After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout Tennessee and into Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, Abingdon, VA, Grundy, VA, Asheville, NC, Boone, NC.