What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that harms the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s disease affects more women than men. It is the utmost common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
Hypothyroidism can be treated with medicine. If left unprocessed, hypothyroidism can reason problems getting pregnant and problems during pregnancy. Symptoms of hypothyroidism contain fatigue, weight gain, depression, and joint pain.
Causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
The exact cause of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is unknown, but many factors are believed to play a role. They include:
- Genes: People who contract Hashimoto often have family members who have thyroid disease or other autoimmune diseases. This suggests a genetic component of the disease.
- Hashimoto’s hormones: Affect approximately seven times more women than men, suggesting that sex hormones may play a role. Also, some women have thyroid problems in the first year after having a baby. Although the problem usually goes away, up to 20% of these women develop Hashimoto’s years later.
- Excessive iodine: Research suggests that certain medications and too much iodine, a trace mineral your body needs to make thyroid hormones, can trigger thyroid disease in susceptible people.
- Exposure to radiation: An increase in cases of thyroid disease has been reported in people exposed to radiation, including the atomic bombs in Japan, the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and radiation treatment for a form of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s disease.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms can be mild at first or take years to develop. The first sign of the disease is usually an enlarged thyroid, called a goiter. Goiter can make the front of your neck look swollen. A large goiter can make swallowing difficult. Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid due to Hashimoto can include:
- Weight gain
- Paleness or swelling of the face
- Joint and muscle pain
- Inability to warm up
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Hair loss or thinning, brittle hair
- Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
- Slower heart rate
Because the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroid can be similar to other medical conditions, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Initial, your healthcare provider will take your medical history and achieve a physical exam. They will feel your thyroid gland to see if it is enlarged. Blood tests are also ordered. These include:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test: A high TSH level usually means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough T4 hormone. This laboratory is usually more consistent with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism.
- Free T4 test: A low T4 level advises that the individual has hypothyroidism.
- Antithyroid antibody test: The existence of antibodies indicates an increased risk of developing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
The most common imaging test that may be ordered is an ultrasound of the thyroid gland. The ultrasound shows the size and appearance of the thyroid and whether there are nodules or growths in the neck area.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treatment
Most people with Hashimoto need treatment. However, if your thyroid is working normally, your doctor can monitor it for changes.
If your thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones, you need medicine. Levothyroxine is a synthetic hormone that substitutes the missing thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). It has practically no side effects. If you need this medicine, you will likely take it for the rest of your life.
Regular use of levothyroxine can return thyroid hormone levels to normal. When this happens, your symptoms will usually go away. However, you will perhaps need regular tests to monitor your hormone stages. This allows your doctor to adjust your dose as needed.
Things to consider
Some additions and medications can affect your body’s capability to absorb levothyroxine. It’s significant to talk to your physician about any other medications you’re taking. Some products trusted Source that is known to cause problems with levothyroxine to include:
- Iron supplements
- Calcium supplements
- Proton pump inhibitors, an action for acid reflux
- Some cholesterol medications
You may need to regulate the time of day you take your thyroid medication when captivating other medicines. Sure foods may also affect the absorption of this drug. Talk to your physician about the best way for you to take thyroid medicine based on your diet.
Risk factors for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
These factors may add to your risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease:
- Gender: Females are much more likely to get Hashimoto’s disease.
- Age: Hashimoto’s disease can occur at any age but more commonly occurs during middle age.
- Heredity: You’re 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: Persons exposed to excessive stages of environmental radiation are more prone to Hashimoto’s disease.
Complications of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Left untreated, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) caused by Hashimoto’s disease can lead to a number of health problems:
- Goiter: Constant stimulation of your thyroid to release more hormones may cause the gland to become enlarged, a condition known as a goiter. Hypothyroidism is a single of the most common causes of goiters. It’s generally not uncomfortable, but a large goiter can affect your appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing.
- Heart problems: Hashimoto’s disease may also be related to an increased risk of heart disease, primarily because high points of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol — can occur in people with an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). If left unprocessed, hypothyroidism can lead to an enlarged heart and, perhaps, heart failure.
- Mental health issues: Depression may occur early in Hashimoto’s disease and may be converted more severe over the period. Hashimoto’s disease can also cause sexual desire (libido) to a reduction in both males and females and can lead to slowed mental functioning.
- Myxedema: This rare, life-threatening condition can progress outstanding to long-term severe hypothyroidism as a result of untreated Hashimoto’s disease. Its signs and symptoms include drowsiness keep an eye on by profound lethargy and unconsciousness.
A myxedema coma may be triggered by exposure to cold, sedatives, infection, or other stress on your body. Myxedema requires immediate emergency medical treatment.
- Birth defects: Babies born to females with untreated hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease may have an advanced risk of birth flaws than do babies born to healthy mothers. Doctors have long recognized that these children are more prone to intellectual and developing problems. There may be a link between hypothyroid pregnancies and birth flaws, such as a cleft palate.
A joining also exists between hypothyroid pregnancies and heart, brain, and kidney difficulties in infants. If you’re planning to get pregnant or if you’re in early pregnancy, be certain to have your thyroid level checkered.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis prevention
Unfortunately, there is no known way to avert Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or inflammation of the thyroid gland. But, on the positive side, this disorder is very treatable. The sooner you are diagnosed; the rather you can begin treatment).
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. In other words, it is caused by a malfunction of the immune system. It is not yet fully understood why the immune system attacks healthy body tissues instead of protecting them, so currently it is not possible to prevent this mechanism.
Since you cannot prevent this disorder, it is much more important to recognize the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. By understanding the symptoms and visiting your doctor as soon as possible after recognizing them, you have a better chance of preventing disease progression.