Hashimoto’s Disease

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is a common disorder caused by an uncontrolled reaction of your immune system that attacks your thyroid, a small gland located in your neck; responsible for the production of some crucial hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Hashimoto’s disease leads to the thyroid tissue destruction and decreased thyroid hormones production; a condition known as hypothyroidism. It usually affects young women and might cause severe consequences in your body metabolism.

Hashimoto’s Disease Signs and Symptoms

Clinical progression of Hashimoto’s disease tends to be slow. Usually, signs and symptoms gradually develop over time and they might be very unspecific at the beginning. You will experience, mainly the symptoms related to hypothyroidism, including:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Puffy face
  • A progressive swelling of the thyroid (Goiter)

Hashimoto’s Disease Causes

Hashimoto’s disease is caused by a malfunction of the immune system, which after some stimulus- apparently some viral or bacterial infection of the thyroid- creates antibodies that specifically attacks and destroys some cells of the gland, decreasing the production of thyroid hormones and causing the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The main cause of Hashimoto’s disease remains controversial. However, experts have established some risk factors related to this condition, including:

  • Female gender.
  • Age under 40.
  • Hashimoto’s disease family history.
  • Another autoimmune disorder personal history.
  • Radiation exposure.

Hashimoto’s Disease Diagnosis

Since Hashimoto’s disease is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism, if you show the typical symptoms, your doctor will perform some lab tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • Blood test: Your blood levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), a hormone produced in your brain that simulated the thyroid gland, will be tested. If you show low levels of T3 or T4 and high levels of TSH, means that your thyroid gland is underactive and your brain is trying to stimulate its hormone production.
  • Antibody test. Since Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, the antibodies created can be measured in your bloodstream. The presence of high levels of antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO antibodies), an enzyme normally found in the thyroid gland, will confirm the diagnosis.
  • There are some other autoimmune disorders  such as  primary ovarian failure, type 1 diabetes, adrenal insufficiency/Addison’s, pernicious anemia, which are at times associated with the same condition and your endocrinologist will consider that investigate further if required.

Hashimoto’s Disease Treatment

The treatment of Hashimoto’s disease involves the supplementation of the hormone deficiency using a synthetic thyroid hormone which is identical to T4 and restores hormone levels and will reverse hypothyroidism symptoms.

Your endocrinologist who is trained  for many years in this particular field has a lost experience of managing such conditions.

There are some important facts for you to know about synthetic thyroid hormones.

  • During treatment, your endocrinologist will increase or decrease your dose, depending on your blood hormone levels.
  • In order to ensure proper absorption, you might need to take it with an empty stomach, ideally during the morning and wait at least one hour before eating or drinking.
  • If you start feeling better, don’t quite your medication. The symptoms might come back.