Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis is when your thyroid
gland becomes irritated. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common type of this health
problem. It is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your body makes antibodies that
attack the cells in your thyroid. The thyroid gland becomes overrun with white blood
cells and becomes scarred. This makes the gland feel firm and rubbery. The thyroid then
can’t make enough of the thyroid hormone. Many people with this problem have an
underactive thyroid gland. That’s also known as hypothyroidism. They have to take
medicine to keep their thyroid hormone levels normal.

What is the cause of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an
autoimmune disorder. Normally, your immune system protects your body by attacking
bacteria and viruses. But with this disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid
gland by mistake. Your thyroid then can’t make enough thyroid hormone, so your body
can’t work as well.

Who is at risk for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Things that may make it more likely to you for to get Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are:

  • Being a woman. Women are about 8
    times more likely to have the disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis sometimes begins
    during pregnancy. The condition may get better in some women during pregnancy. But
    then it returns after delivery.
  • Being middle age. Most cases happen between ages 40 and
    60. But it has been seen in younger people.
  • Having a family member with the disease (heredity). The
    disease tends to run in families. But no gene has been found that carries it.
  • Having other autoimmune
    diseases. 
    These health problems raise a person’s risk. Some examples are
    rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Having this type of thyroiditis puts you at
    higher risk for other autoimmune illnesses.

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:

Goiter

This is an enlargement of your
thyroid gland. It causes a bulge on your neck. It is not cancer. But it can cause
problems such as pain or trouble with swallowing, breathing, or speaking.

Underactive thyroid

When your thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, it can cause these symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Muscle weakness and joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Not being able to handle cold
  • Depression
  • Hair and skin changes

Overactive thyroid

When the thyroid is attacked by antibodies, it may at first make more thyroid hormone. This is called Hashitoxicosis. It does not happen to everyone. But it can cause these symptoms: 

  • Not being able to handle heat
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety

These symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask
about your health history and give you a physical exam. You will also have blood tests.
These can measure your thyroid hormone levels and check for some antibodies to proteins
in the thyroid.