WASHINGTON, July 1, 2017 – Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition where the body produces antibodies that attack the healthy cells of the thyroid gland, and these results in damage to the otherwise healthy tissue. The result is reduced thyroid hormone production which can lead to long-term neurological complications.
Researchers have now shown that Hashimoto’s disease can affect the functioning of the brain, and this has been referred to as accelerated brain degeneration.
It’s important to mention that brain-related changes occur as a result of poorly controlled Hashimoto’s disease. Therefore, patients are urged to regularly follow-up with their specialists and primary care doctors to adequately manage and monitor the progression of the disease. It’s also recommended that these patients take their medication and any other supplements as prescribed.
Patients may be compliant with their medication but there are times when symptoms such as depression, decreased mental alertness, drowsiness, brain fog and cognitive changes still occur. The problem is that numerous symptoms of brain decline mimic those of Hashimoto’s disease, and these results in patients and their doctors ultimately ignoring the symptoms, leading to the thought that these problems are just thyroid-related issues that one just has to live with.
This is a common mistake, unfortunately, and the end result is regrettable consequences. These being that it has been discovered that Hashimoto’s disease increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Accelerated brain degeneration is, in fact, one of the most severe complications of poorly managed Hashimoto’s disease.
The most common symptoms of early brain degeneration include fatigue, depression, loss of motivation and decreased drive, which are identical to symptoms of hypothyroidism. Other symptoms may also include the inability to find the correct words, brain fog, memory loss, and delayed mental speed. Fatigue is a very common symptoms and this makes driving, reading and holding a conversation exhausting. Patients with Hashimoto’s disease may also experience vertigo, a loss of balance, tinnitus, numbness and tingling in different parts of the body, and other neurological issues.
The possible cause behind decreased thyroid functioning resulting in accelerated brain degeneration may be due to the following factors:
- Alteration of neurotransmitter activity
- Increased brain inflammation.
- Increased brain inflammation.
- Loss in the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.
- Decreased blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
- Promotion of brain autoimmunity.
- Increased protein aggregation (clumping together of proteins in the brain).
- Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and Alzheimer’s disease
The early symptoms of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism being associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease include trouble learning new tasks and activities, having an impaired memory, frequently losing everyday items such as spectacles and keys, and having difficulty with directions.
Two recent clinical studies, including one that assessed over 300,000 individuals, show that Hashimoto’s disease increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Patients with Hashimoto’s disease should be aware of early symptoms of Parkinson’s such as a decreased sense of smell, slowness, and constipation. Tremors usually occur later in the development of Parkinson’s disease, therefore if this symptom is present then it may be too late to reverse the damage caused by Hashimoto’s disease.
It’s very important for patients with Hashimoto’s disease -and their doctors – to be aware of the possibility that brain-related symptoms may be as a result of complications caused by the disease itself, rather than them being part of the condition.
Even though the symptoms are the same, from a clinical point of view it’s very important that the issues are managed appropriately because brain-related complications caused by Hashimoto’s disease can be irreversible, and will end up greatly affecting the involved patient’s quality of life.
This article is not intended as medical advice. Please see your physician with questions or concerns.