What is Hashimoto's disease?
(Update: ) - general subjects
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an important part of the endocrine system that produces hormones that control the coordinated functioning of our organs.
Inflammation from Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
This disease was described by Japanese scientist Akira Hashimato in 1912.
Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women, but can also be seen in men and women of all ages and children.Mayo Clinic
Doctors test your thyroid function to help diagnose Hashimoto's disease (TFT = Thyroid Function Test). Treatment of Hashimoto's disease with thyroid hormone replacement is usually simple and effective.
You may not notice the signs or symptoms of Hashimoto's disease in the first place, or you may feel a swelling in the front of your throat (goiter). Hashimoto's disease usually progresses slowly over the years and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to a decrease in thyroid hormone levels in your blood.
Signs and symptoms are mainly those of the non-directive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Language enlargement
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have these complaints:
- Tiredness for no apparent reason
- Dry skin
- Pale, puffy face
You should also see your doctor for a thyroid function test (TFT) check if:
- Those who have had thyroid surgery
- Those who are being treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medication
- When radiation therapy is applied to your head, neck or chest
- If you have high blood cholesterol, talk to your doctor about whether hypothyroidism is causing it.
Thyroid Function Tests (TFT)
- T4 (Thyroxine; a thyroid hormone)
- T3 (Triiodothyronine; a thyroid hormone)
- TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone; secreted by the pituitary gland)
If you are on hormone therapy for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto's disease, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. It is important to make sure you are taking the correct dosage of medication. Over time, the dose you need to change your thyroid function accordingly may change.
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system creates antibodies that damage your thyroid gland. He still doesn't know what caused this situation. While some scientists think a virus or bacteria can trigger the response, others think there may be a genetic defect.
A combination of factors, including heredity, gender, and age, can determine your likelihood of developing the disorder.
These factors may contribute to the risk of developing Hashimoto's disease:
- Sex. Women are much more likely to get Hashimoto's disease.
- Age. Hashimoto's disease can occur at any age, but occurs more often in middle age.
- Extends. You are at higher risk for Hashimoto's disease if others in your family have thyroid or other autoimmune diseases.
- Other autoimmune diseases. Having another autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, or lupus increases your risk of developing Hashimoto's disease.
- Radiation exposure. People exposed to excessive environmental radiation are more prone to Hashimoto's disease
If left untreated, an ineffective thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) caused by Hashimoto's disease can lead to some health problems:
- Goiter (Goiter). Continuous stimulation of your thyroid to release more hormones can cause the gland to grow into a condition known as goiter. Hashimoto is one of the most common causes of hypothyroid goiter. Although not generally uncomfortable, large goiter can affect your appearance and interfere with swallowing or breathing.
- Heart problems. Hashimoto's disease may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, as it can occur in people with high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol - "bad" cholesterol - low active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to enlargement of the heart and possibly heart failure.
- Mental health problems. Depression can occur early in Hashimoto's disease and can become more severe over time. Hashimoto's disease can lead to decreased sexual desire (libido) and slowed mental functioning in both men and women.
- Myxedema (mix-uh-DEE-muh). This rare, life-threatening condition can develop due to prolonged hypothyroidism as a result of untreated Hashimoto's disease. Signs and symptoms include deep drowsiness and lethargy after unconsciousness. Myxedema coma can be triggered by exposure to cold, sedatives, infection, or other stress in your body. Myxedema requires immediate medical treatment.
- Birth defects. Babies born to women with untreated hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto's disease may have a higher risk of birth defects than babies born to healthy mothers. Doctors have long known that these children are more prone to intellectual and developmental problems. There may be a link between hypothyroid pregnancies and birth defects such as cleft palate. There is also a link between hypothyroid pregnancies and heart, brain and kidney problems in babies. If you are planning to conceive or are in early pregnancy, be sure to have your thyroid levels checked.
Treatment of Hashimoto's Disease
Treatment for this disease depends on symptoms and blood test results. If your thyroid tests are normal, your doctor may choose to just follow your symptoms and not use any medication. Otherwise, some treatment options are:
- Thyroid Hormone Replacement therapy: If hypothyroidism develops due to Hashimoto's disease, the best treatment is to replace the synthetic thyroid hormone. Doctors use the drug levothyroxine (Levothyroin, Euthyrox, Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroid) to treat hypothyroidism. Usually this drug should be taken for life. Its effectiveness is measured by controlling TSH levels in the blood and tracking your symptoms.
- Surgical Option: Surgery is only preferred in very rare cases where thyroid enlargement prevents breathing or swallowing. In most cases, the disease is detected before these symptoms appear.
As a result
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland and can lead to hypothyroidism. Typical symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, constipation, and hoarseness. Diagnosis is made by physical examination and blood test. Hashimoto's disease is usually treated with thyroid hormone replacement for life.