Thyroid-InfographicAccording to the National Thyroid Institute, millions of Americans live with thyroid problems—some knowingly, others unknowingly. These people live with the effects, which include sudden and unexplainable weight gain, hair loss, fatigue and body pain. Some develop cancer, which can significantly alter their quality of life or even kill them.

The thyroid, a small, butterfly shaped gland located in the neck, produces a hormone that the body uses to regulate the body’s metabolism, which is related to everything from proper digestion to muscle growth to a person’s overall energy and vigor. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, nearly every other part of the body is affected.

When considering how to treat an improperly functioning thyroid gland, it’s important to first have a clear understanding of what is causing the problem.

There are two distinct types of issues that cause people’s thyroid glands to malfunction: hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing to understand about Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism is how they differ—Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the thyroid gland is attacked by the body’s own cells. If left untreated, Hashimoto’s can destroy the thyroid gland entirely.

Hypothyroidism is not a disease. In fact, it is a condition that can occur as a result of Hashimoto’s disease—one of the most dire consequences of the disease. When a person has hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough of its hormone to allow the body to function properly. It is important to know that a person can develop hypothyroidism without the presence of Hashimoto’s disease.

One of the biggest differences between Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism is what causes them. In general, Hashimoto’s disease is hereditary, meaning it is passed on from generation to generation in the same family. Hypothyroidism, however, has many causes, including autoimmune diseases, diets high in gluten and exposure to iodine from radiation.

Thyroid GraphicEven though Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism have different causes, their symptoms and treatments are similar. Symptoms for both can include rapid weight gain, hair loss, enlarged glands on the neck, joint pain, irritable bowels and emotional issues ranging from anxiety to depression.

There are many treatment options for people with hypothyroidism, ranging from gluten-free diets to surgery in severe cases. Hashimoto’s disease is typically treated with hormone replacement therapy. If diagnosed early enough, both Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism can be effectively treated, but it is important that a proper diagnosis is made. People who visit the doctor to have their thyroid function examined should be sure to ask their doctors:
  • Whether gluten is to blame for the thyroid problem
  • What natural treatment options may be available as alternatives to surgery or hormone replacement
  • Whether or not a daily regiment of exercise, increased vitamin and mineral intake and rest could adequately address the problem.

The key thing for everyone to remember when faced with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism is that they are not the same thing–the disease needs to be treated through traditional medical techniques, the condition can often be treated through alternative medicine.

The confusion of Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism is one of many common myths surrounding this frustrating disease.  To learn more about what may be causing your thyroid condition, download our FREE REPORT and diagnose your thyroid symptoms, or schedule an ASSESSMENT with one of our physicians TODAY!