What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is a disease that affects the thyroid gland and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. You can find more information below.

What is Hashimoto’s disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland located under the Adam’s apple in your neck. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system that produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis , causes inflammation during pregnancy, often an underactive thyroid gland ( hypothyroidism ). Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It usually affects middle-aged women, but can also occur in men, women, and children of any age.

Doctors test your thyroid function to help detect Hashimoto’s disease. This disease is treated with thyroid hormone replacement. Treatment is usually simple and effective.

What causes Hashimoto’s disease?

This disease, which generate damaging your thyroid gland antibodies your immune system is an autoimmune disorder . Doctors still don’t know what causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland.

Some scientists think a virus or bacteria may trigger the condition, while others think it may be a genetic defect. A combination of factors, including heredity, gender, and age, can determine your odds of developing the disorder.

Who is at risk?

The following factors are what contribute to the risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease:

  • Gender: Women are more likely to get this disease.
  • Age: The disease can occur at any age, but more often occurs in middle age.
  • Heredity: If other people in your family have thyroid or other autoimmune diseases, you are at higher risk for Hashimoto’s disease.
  • Other autoimmune diseases: Having another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis , type 1 diabetes , or lupus , increases your risk.
  • Radiation exposure: People exposed to excessive levels of environmental radiation are more prone to hashimoto’s disease.

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease?

You may not notice signs or symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease at first, or your throat may be; You may notice a swelling ( goiter disease ) in front of it. Hashimoto’s disease typically progresses slowly over years and causes chronic thyroid damage , resulting in a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. The symptoms are basically signs of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

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Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • pale, dry skin
  • a puffy face
  • brittle nails
  • hair loss
  • enlargement of the tongue
  • unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • joint pain and stiffness
  • muscle weakness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • Depression
  • Loss of memory

When should you see a doctor?

You should consult your doctor if you develop the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue for no apparent reason
  • skin dryness
  • Pale, puffy face
  • Constipation

You should see your doctor for periodic testing of your thyroid function if:

  • If you have had thyroid surgery
  • If you have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid drugs
  • if you have had radiation therapy to your head, neck, or upper chest

If you have high cholesterol, you can talk to your doctor about whether hypothyroidism is the cause of your illness .

If you are on hormone therapy for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease, you should schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. It is important to make sure you take the correct dose of medication. Over time, the dose needed to adequately alter your thyroid function may change.

How is Hashimoto’s disease diagnosed?

In general, your doctor may test for Hashimoto’s disease if you feel increasingly tired or sluggish, have dry skin, constipation, a hoarse voice, or have had thyroid problems or goiter before.

Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease is based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests that measure the levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced in the pituitary gland. These may include:

  • Hormone testing: Blood tests can determine the amount of hormones produced by your thyroid and pituitary glands. If your thyroid is underactive, your thyroid hormone level is low. At the same time, TSH levels rise as your pituitary gland tries to stimulate your thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone.
  • Antibody testing: Since Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, the cause involves the production of abnormal antibodies. A blood test can confirm the presence of antibodies to thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme normally found in the thyroid gland that plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones. However, this antibody test is not positive in everyone with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Many people have these antibodies, but these people do not have goiter, hypothyroidism, or other problems.

In the past, doctors were unable to detect an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which is the main indicator of Hashimoto’s disease, until symptoms were quite advanced. But now, using the sensitive TSH test, doctors can diagnose thyroid disorders much earlier, often without symptoms.

How is Hashimoto’s disease treated?

Treatment may include observation and the use of medication. If there is no evidence of hormone deficiency and your thyroid is functioning normally, your doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach. If you need to take medicine, you can now use it for the rest of your life.

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synthetic hormones

If Hashimoto’s disease is causing a thyroid hormone deficiency , you may need replacement therapy with thyroid hormone. This usually includes daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine .

Synthetic levothyroxine is the same as thyroxine, the natural version of this hormone made by your thyroid gland. Oral medication regulates adequate hormone levels and reverses all symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Dosage monitoring

To determine the correct initial dosage of levothyroxine, your doctor will usually check your TSH levels after six to eight weeks of treatment and again after any dose changes. Even after the dose that normalizes your thyroid tests has been determined, your doctor is likely to check your TSH levels about every 12 months, as the dosage you need may vary. Excessive amounts of thyroid hormone can accelerate bone loss, which can make osteoporosis or osteopenia worse or increase the risk of these diseases. Overtreatment with levothyroxine may also cause heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias).

If you have coronary artery disease or severe hypothyroidism, your doctor may start treatment with a smaller amount of medication and gradually increase the dose. Progressive hormone replacement allows your heart to adapt to the increase in metabolism.

Levothyroxine, when dosed appropriately, causes almost no side effects and is relatively inexpensive. If you change brands, you should let your doctor know to make sure you’re still getting the correct dose.

Also, you should not skip doses or stop taking the medicine. If you do, the symptoms will gradually begin to return.

Effects of other substances

In the case of Hashimoto’s disease, some medications, supplements, and certain foods can affect your ability to absorb levothyroxine. However, taking levothyroxine four hours before or after other medications may fix the problem.

Talk to your doctor if you eat a lot of soy products or a high-fiber diet, or if you are taking any of the following:

  • Iron supplements, including multivitamins containing iron
  • cholestyramine, a drug used to lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Aluminum hydroxide, found in some antacids
  • sucralfate, ulcer medicine
  • calcium supplements

Is a combination of hormones necessary?

Levothyroxine is the synthetic form of natural T-4. T-4 hormone (thyroxine) is converted to T-3 hormone (triiodothyronine) in the body . While most people are successfully treated with levothyroxine alone, some people do not feel completely normal while using levothyroxine.

The researchers investigated whether adjusting standard hypothyroidism therapy to replace some T-4 with small amounts of T-3 would benefit. However, most studies have determined that the addition of T-3 does not provide any advantage over treatment with T-4 alone. There is some evidence that T-3 may benefit certain subgroups, such as people who have had their thyroid removed surgically ( thyroidectomy ). Research continues.

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T-3 can be given as liothyronine alone or in combination with T-4. Taking a combination of T-4 and T-3 produces higher than normal levels of T-3, especially soon after taking the drug. This can cause a rapid heart rate, anxiety, and trouble sleeping.

But for those who don’t get enough relief while taking T-4 alone, adding liothyronine to standard levothyroxine therapy for a three to six month trial is long enough to see if the combination helps you.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how .

Diet and nutrition in Hashimoto’s disease

The best diet for Hashimoto is completely unprocessed foods, healthy fats, and lean protein, including high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. People with Hashimoto’s often experiment with different diets until they find the treatment that makes them feel best. Healthy foods for these patients are generally unprocessed foods.

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables: Eat a selection of colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal to ensure you’re getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, assuming you’re not sensitive.
  • High-fiber carbohydrates: Fiber is key for weight management, a healthy heart, and blood sugar control. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes are rich in fiber.
  • Lean proteins: Chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, tofu, beans, and nuts provide healthy proteins that contain no or the least amount of saturated fat.
  • Healthy fats: Salmon, white tuna, nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and avocados are packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s that reduce inflammation in the body.

Hashimoto’s disease complications

If left untreated, hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoato disease can lead to a number of health problems such as:

  • Goiter: Constant stimulation of your thyroid to release more hormone can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland, a condition known as goiter. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common causes of goiter. It’s usually not bothersome, but a 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. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to an enlarged heart and possibly heart failure.
  • Mental health problems: Depression can occur early in Hashimoto’s disease and can become more severe over time. The disease can cause decreased sexual desire (libido) in both men and women and can cause slowing of mental functioning.
  • Myxedema: This rare, life-threatening condition can develop due to prolonged severe hypothyroidism as a result of untreated Hashimoto’s disease. Symptoms include mild drowsiness followed by deep drowsiness and unconsciousness.
  • Birth defects: Babies born to women with untreated hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease may have higher birth defects than babies born to healthy mothers.

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