Are You a Woman Suffering From Energy Loss?
Are you a woman who is middle aged and tired? Have you been gaining weight and losing energy? Are your menstrual cycles heavy or irregular?
Although these symptoms can be the signs of many different illnesses, when you put them altogether, it may also mean that you are suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease.
I know, because I suffer from it.
What is Your Thyroid?
Why is it important to function properly for your health?
Before you can understand what Hashimoto’s Disease does to your body, you need to understand what the function of your thyroid is.
The thyroid sits below your Adam’s apple, near the front of the neck, is brownish red in color and is a butterfly shaped gland. You cannot feel it when it is working properly. The job of the thyroid is to secrete certain hormones, in particular, T4 known as thyroxine. When these hormones get out of whack, whether they be too low or too high, it can cause a host of illnesses, as it is a regulator of your body and of your mind. 
The American Thyroid Association suggests that people be screened for thyroid issues every five years, beginning at age 35. 
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What is Hashimoto's Disease?
This medical problem is caused by hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. If you have this autoimmune disorder, your body attacks the thyroid gland and it cannot produce enough of the T3 and T4 hormones, which are controlled by the pituitary gland. The antibodies your body produces makes the thyroid cease to work properly, causing hormone levels to dip, and it causes you to slow down physically.
This illness is genetic and children who have parents with this disease should be monitored closely. It occurs more often in women than in men.
A Doctor Explains it All
Symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease
According to womenshealth.gov, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease are:
- Weight gain
- Pale, puffy face
- Feeling cold
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry, thinning hair
- Heavy menstrual flow or irregular periods
- A slowed heart rate
- Problems getting pregnant
These symptoms may not appear all at once, but slowly over time. Most women who get this are middle aged.
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My Battle With Hashimoto's Disease
Although I cannot pinpoint an exact date as to when my body started to develop this condition, I can look back at the past few years and see when it started to overtake my life.
Ironically, my husband was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease at the age of 38, just a week before we adopted our twins. This is unusual, as it an illness that mainly afffects women. In fact, when our doctor found out that we adopted a set of premature infants, she declared that he was too tired for such a task!
Over the course of the next few years, my energy levels slowly decreased. I blamed many things for this…turning 40, caring for three kids on my own for 60 or more hours a week, caring for my newly disabled mother, my twins not sleeping through the night, stress, and not eating properly.
Around the age of 42, I noticed my weight creeping up and I was unable to take it off, despite working out for over an hour a day six days a week. When it was time for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, it took me about eight months to lose eight pounds.
At my annual checkup, I asked my doctor about what was going on. She told me to do more cardio and took a basic blood panel.
She found nothing wrong with me.
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Yet, I continued to be tired all the time and found it impossible to lose weight. My joints were achy, but I blamed that on my workouts and my age.
After another year of recurring female issues and more bloodwork, my OBGYN sent me to see an endocrinologist because I had some abnormally high levels of certain female hormones. I needed a full work up as well as a brain scan to see if I did had a tumor near my pituitary gland that was causing these hormonal irregularities.
All of my bloodwork showed that not only did I have a vitamin B12 deficiency (my body barely produced any), but I indeed had Hashimoto’s disease. My doctor told me how this disease affected women’s fertility. Was it possible that this went undiagnosed almost ten years earlier when I struggled to achieve and maintain a pregnancy? He knew the doctor I saw and told me he was sure that this was checked, but he would not say for certain. Your body and hormone levels do change with age.
But it is also a fact that it can cause take years for symptoms to start to show, even though the disease is present.
How the Thyroid Problems and Infertility Are Connected
Dr David Cook Explains
I was prescribed 110 mcg of Synthroid, a T4 medication, and twice monthly B12 shots, and asked to return in six weeks with new completed blood work. I started to feel a bit better after taking my new medication, but on my return visit, my B12 levels increased but my thyroid was still not working correctly. My dose was upped to 125 mcg of Synthroid and six weeks later, not only was I feeling like a new person, my weight had started to drop! My metabolism was starting to stabilize.
Best of all, I felt alive in a way that I had not for years. I was no longer dragging through my life, but living it!
I now see my endocrinologist every six months. This winter, I had been feeling sluggish and my weight was increasing, so he upped my meds to 137 mcg and added Cytomel, a T3 hormone medication, twice a day. My weight has decreased and I am again more energetic in the second half of the day.
Whenever I hear of friends my age who are tired and gaining weight, I tell them to book an appointment with an endocrinologist as soon as possible. We cannot always blame age or our busy lives for our fatigue, and our regular family physicians do not do the kind of bloodwork necessary to see if we are having thyroid issues.
And when I hear of someone younger having fertility issues, I suggest that she see an endocrinologist as well.
This disease can also affect teenagers. When my daughter slept through her first semester of college, we had her tested for Hashimoto's Disease. Not only did she suffer from this, she was also B12 deficient like me. Once we had her on medication, she was once again her energetic self.
We do not have to suffer from Hashimoto’s Disease, we can conquer it.