Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most rampant form of thyroiditis. The disease is often called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis and affects million around the globe.
When malfunctioning immune cells attack your thyroid gland, it limits your thyroid's ability to produce thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the main contributor to hypothyroidism.
If Hashimoto's thyroiditis persistently attacks your thyroid, it is possible that the gland can no longer produce enough thyroid hormones for your body to function properly. This will result in you becoming a patient of hypothyroidism. In some cases, Hashimoto's thyroiditis also causes thyroid to become so inflamed and enlarged that a goiter develops.
Causes of Hashimoto's thyroiditis
In Hashimoto's thyroiditis, huge numbers of damaged immune cells invade the thyroid. These immune cells are called lymphocytes. When these lymphocytes enter the thyroid, they demolish the cells, tissue, and blood vessels within the gland. This whole process is slow and that’s why people suffering from Hashimoto's thyroiditis are unable to notice any symptoms.
Because the invading cells attack the thyroid, it is no longer able to make adequate thyroid hormone. This condition leads to hypothyroidism and in extreme cases, inflammation of the neck called goiter.
Doctors have not been able to find a valid reason as to why the immune system sometimes turns against the body's healthy tissues.
It’s difficult to recognize signs or symptoms of Hashimoto's disease initially, but you may notice a swelling at the front of your throat. Hashimoto's disease is slow to progress and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to significant drop in thyroid hormone levels. Common signs of an underactive thyroid gland are:
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Hoarse voice
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in your shoulders and hips
- Pain and stiffness in your joints and swelling in your knees
- Muscle weakness, especially in your lower extremities
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
Treatment for Hashimoto's disease may include continuous supervision and medication use. However, if your thyroid is functioning normally, your endocrinologist may recommend a wait-and-watch approach. You may need thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
- Synthetic hormones: If Hashimoto's thyroiditis leads to thyroid hormone deficiency, you may require thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which usually involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone Levothyroxine. The drug acts similar to thyroxine. This oral medication reverses all the symptoms of hypothyroidism and maintains adequate hormone levels.
- Tracking the dosage: In order to prescribe the right dosage of Levothyroxine at the beginning, your endocrinologist usually checks your level of TSH after a few weeks of treatment. High levels of thyroid hormone can trigger bone loss, which may make osteoporosis worse or increase the risk of this disease. Overdose of Levothyroxine can also cause heart rhythm disorders.
- Effects of other substances: Some medicines, foods and supplements may affect your ability to absorb Levothyroxine. Giving enough time to the body to absorb Levothyroxine can solve this problem. It’s good to have a consultation with your endocrinologist.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, you are risk of developing Hashimoto's thyroiditis
. The best way to deal with it is getting regularly checked for Hashimoto's thyroiditis