Thyroid Diseases And Disorders: What You Need to Know.

There are a variety of thyroid diseases and disorders, and understanding the difference between them can help you know if you are affected.
Woman (thyroid gland image)

My mom was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease when she was in her 30s. At the time, I was still a young teen living at home, and I didn’t think too much of her condition. It seemed like her number one complaint was thinning hair, which can obviously be traumatic. She began taking an oral medication, and things seemed to settle. I wasn’t familiar with all the other symptoms and complications of this type of thyroid disease, and my mom’s medical history was always complicated.

As the years progressed, it was unclear which of her health issues were caused by several diagnosed conditions; Hashimoto’s was just one of them. I watched my mom suffer in a lot of ways, observed her responses to how she handled her health and was determined that as I aged, I would set out to be a much healthier person. I loved my mom tremendously; she had a powerful and positive impact on my life. I just wanted to understand more about why she was always so susceptible to sickness and if there could have been a better way to handle her chronic conditions and symptoms.

In my mid-30s, I was cruising along in a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle. I was at the leanest weight since high school, and I developed a newfound love of fitness, weightlifting, and cross-training. I felt young, healthy, and resilient, and I worked hard to maintain that healthy lifestyle into my 40s.

Now I’m close to 50 years old, and the last couple of years have taken a surprising turn. The major stresses of a divorce after a long-term marriage, caring for my mom while she was on hospice for 8 months, and then losing her to that long battle… all took a toll on me physically. I had been slowly regaining weight, losing energy for effective workouts, and developing other symptoms like thinning hair, puffiness in my face, and changes in my skin and nails. I attributed these negative symptoms to stress, perimenopause, and less consistency in my diet and exercise routine.

A Surprising Personal Diagnosis

Dr exam or thyroid exam

I was ready to seek professional help with those age-related hormonal changes. I made an appointment with a specialist and got extensive blood work done to give insights into what important changes I could potentially make to get my body back on a healthier course. When the results came back, my doctor shared the particulars about my blood work, vitamin, mineral, and hormone levels – all of which I was expecting.

Then without even a pause in her delivery of my bloodwork results, she diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s disease, and I was completely shocked. Even though my mom suffered, I sincerely never considered that I would have the same issues. I had to walk away from my appointment that day and re-evaluate my strategy. I’d been anticipating bioidentical hormone replacement to help with perimenopause symptoms, but I had not even considered there could have been another issue contributing to my struggles over the last several years.

What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system creates antibodies that attack thyroid cells as if they were bacteria, viruses, or some other foreign invader in the body. Hashimoto’s is one of the causes of hypothyroidism, but it is not the same as hypothyroidism. The main difference between the two is what causes the condition of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is a disease that can cause an underactive thyroid due to the immune system attacking the thyroid cells and, in turn, causing it to lose healthy function.

Why is thyroid function so important?

Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats. This is a key reason that many people seek a diagnosis of their thyroid function when they start to notice challenges in their overall health and wellness.

Types of Thyroid Disease

There are several different types of thyroid disease, including:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Thyroiditis
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis


Hyperthyroidism happens with the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. The condition is also called overactive thyroid.


  • weight loss despite increased appetite
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • nervousness, irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue
  • shaky hands, muscle weakness
  • sweating or trouble tolerating heat
  • frequent bowel movements
  • Goiter: an enlargement in the neck


weight gain

Hypothyroidism happens with the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. It is also called underactive thyroid.


  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble tolerating cold
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Dry skin or dry, thinning hair
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods or fertility problems
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression


sore throat

Thyroiditis is inflammation of your thyroid gland.


  • Pain in throat
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Swelling of the thyroid gland
  • Sometimes symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid gland

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hair loss

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to create antibodies that attack thyroid cells as if they are something the body should work to get rid of. Most often, Hashimoto’s causes an underactive thyroid, but on rare occasions, it can cause a hyperactive thyroid.


  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Dry skin
  • Goiter creating an enlarged neck
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Intolerance to cold

Thyroid Disease vs. Thyroid Disorder

It might be tempting to diagnose yourself with a thyroid “disorder” leading to an underactive thyroid. When considering your health and the role your thyroid might play in feeling well or unwell, it’s important not to self-diagnose. Every disease or disorder of the body is a disease of inflammation. So, if you suspect your thyroid is a culprit to any of the symptoms above, you can always start by practicing an anti-inflammatory diet. Be wary of supplement companies, self-proclaimed gurus, and talking heads who claim to be experts or can in some way heal you naturally. I’m all for natural remedies, but without a diagnosis, you can often throw money into the wind looking for answers to what ails you.

The thyroid controls so many aspects of your body’s function that it can be easy to attribute almost any symptom to some type of thyroid issue when it may not be the root cause. Always consult a professional, possibly even beyond your regular doctor, to get the most in-depth answers and analysis of bloodwork and any other testing that needs to be done. When it comes to your health and well-being, you will always be the number one advocate for yourself.

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