Taken three years ago today, I remember the day this photo was taken really well.
I went to a friend’s birthday meal, despite feeling like I had a case of really bad flu and had done for ages. This ‘flu’ had been hanging around for a month or two by the time this photo was taken and eventually, a few months later, it was confirmed that I didn’t just have the flu or a virus that wasn’t going away, I actually had autoimmune hypothyroidism.
I felt as if I was going mad, and wondered if I was imagining feeling so unwell with flu type symptoms (heavy fatigue, intense muscle aches and pain) everyday for almost six months, before I was eventually diagnosed.
I had had symptoms of an underactive thyroid for five years prior to this photo (fatigue, depressive episodes, anxiety, acid reflux, very heavy periods, muscle cramps, unexplained diarrhoea, dry skin, acne, weight fluctuations) but they would come and go in bouts, meaning my health would get better and then worse again for a few months at a time, without any explanation from the many doctors I saw for all these symptoms.
Looking back, I can see now that it was the Hashimoto’s flaring up and progressing and then perhaps slowing down again, causing these flare ups in bad health, before I got to the point in January 2015, where from then on until my diagnosis in July 2015, the bouts of poor health making me feel as if I had the flu, didn’t go away this time. It was permanent.
And finally then, the doctors thought to test me for autoimmune hypothyroidism and I was diagnosed with it, with antibodies off the charts.
So, why aren’t doctors screening people for this supposedly ‘very common’ condition when they’re showing signs early on? Why aren’t we catching the condition sooner and are instead leaving them to get worse with time? When someone comes in complaining of unexplainable fatigue, poor mental health and aches and pains, why are they often not checked for a thyroid condition? Just the unexplained fatigue alone should warrant a look at their thyroid hormone levels, surely?
Especially when we consider that:
- The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease
- Including at least 1 in 20 people in the UK say the BTF (though I believe it’s more common)
- And more than 12 percent of the U.S. population developing a thyroid condition during their lifetime, say the ATA
- Yet the ATA also say that as many as 60% are undiagnosed
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six WEGO Award Nominations, a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying to become a Life Coach, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community and has relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology, Motivational Speaking and Positive Thinking.