Hashimoto’s disease, also referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder which results in the thyroid gland being destroyed gradually. In this condition the body has an immune reaction against its thyroid gland, which lies at the base of a person’s neck below Adam’s apple, resulting in thyroiditis which is the inflammation of the gland. A part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland produces hormones that are necessary to co-ordinate many of the bodily functions. Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, this condition results in Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland. This disease can be detected by testing one’s thyroid function and can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement. However, a complete cure for the disease has not yet been found.
What are the causes?
What causes your immune system to act against your thyroid gland has not yet been discovered. Some scientists are of the view that this is the result of certain genetic flaws and others think that some bacteria or viruses are behind this reaction.
Symptoms to look for
Signs and symptoms of this condition are subtle in nature and similar to those symptoms of hypothyroidism. It most cases it’s only when the condition worsens that the symptoms become obvious. Almost all the symptoms point to a decreased metabolism of the body. Some of the common symptoms are
- Dry hair and hair loss
- Fatigue, depression, and sluggishness
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Muscle ache, weakness, and joint pain
- Lack of concentration and memory loss
- Decreased sleep patterns
- Intolerance to cold
- Excessive sleepiness
- Weight gain and increased levels of cholesterol
Other symptoms include swelling of the thyroid which could cause difficulty in swallowing and a feeling of fullness in the throat. When the condition becomes more severe there could be a decreased level of heart rate, a drop in the temperature of the body, puffiness of eyes or even heart failure. In extreme cases, this condition could result in myxoedema coma which is life-threatening.
Risk factors that are to be considered
Hereditary factors: There is a higher risk if a person has a family history of autoimmune diseases or thyroid disorders.
Age and sex: Though seen more commonly among middle-aged people, this disease can occur during any stages of life and women are more likely to get it.
Exposure to radiation and having autoimmune disorders like lupus or type 1 diabetes increases the risk of having Hashimoto’s disease.
According to the post here Hashimoto’s Disease: Find Best Doctors and Hospitals| Xpertdox, we learn the situation could worsen or cost one’s life if left untreated.
Unless it’s diagnosed and treated properly the condition could lead to severe heart problems, goiter, mental health disorders, myxoedema and birth defects.
Diagnosis and treatment
Consult a doctor if you have the above-mentioned symptoms. The physician would normally take a detailed family history and look for enlargement of the thyroid gland. The disease can be confirmed through specific blood tests. Once diagnosed, the thyroid hormone medication has to be taken as prescribed by your physician to maintain the levels of hormone within the normal range.