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Hashimoto's DiseaseHashimoto’s Disease

Commonly asked questions about Hashimoto’s disease

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is a form of autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing many of your body’s hormones that help with everyday function.

What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease?

Endocrineweb.com states that Hashimoto’s disease is caused when a large amount of damaged immune cells called lymphocytes invade the thyroid. When the lymphocytes enter the thyroid they destroy the thyroid’s cells, tissue and blood vessels. The lymphocytes’ process for destroying the thyroid gland takes a long time, which is the main reason many people who have this disease go many years without noticing any symptoms.

What Risk Factors are associated with Hashimoto’s Disease?

Everyday Health and Health line state that doctors are unsure of what exactly causes Hashimoto’s disease. However, they have found several risk factors that appear to attribute to the disease.

  • Gender: Women are roughly seven times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease than men.
  • Age: Hashimoto’s disease is diagnosed most often in middle-aged adults.
  • Other Diseases: Having another form of autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes increases your chance of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
  • Genes: You have a higher chance of developing Hashimoto’s disease if a parent or sibling has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

According to Endocrineweb.com if Hashimoto’s goes diagnosed or untreated there are a multitude of complications that may develop, such as:

Complications Description 
Birth Defects Women with untreated thyroid disorders are more likely to have a baby born with major mental and physical development issues. Thyroid hormones are vital for the development of the child’s brain.
Goiter When your thyroid is overexerting itself in an effort to produce an adequate amount of hormones, the overuse of the gland may cause it to enlarge to the point where you develop a bulge in your neck.
Heart Problems Having an underactive thyroid increases levels of “bad” cholesterol, which increases the chance of developing a heart problem. Having an abundance of bad cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which may increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Infertility When thyroid hormone levels are too low, it may affect ovulation and decrease a woman’s chances of conceiving.
Mental Health Issues Hypothyroidism may cause mild forms of depression. Without treatment, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will become more severe. This has the ability to gradually decrease your mental functioning as well as intensify depression.
Myxedema This is an extreme form of hypothyroidism that is life threatening. Myxedema can slow metabolism to the point where you may fall into a coma.

 

What are the Signs/Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease?

Endocrineweb.com and Healthline state there are not any signs or symptoms that are unique to Hashimoto’s disease. Rather, it causes symptoms that reveal your thyroid is not working as it should. These symptoms include:

  • constipation
  • dry/pale skin
  • hoarse voice
  • high cholesterol 
  • depression
  • lower body muscle weakness 
  • fatigue
  • feeling sluggish 
  • cold intolerance
  • thinning hair
  • problems with fertility

Is Hashimoto’s Disease Curable?

According to Medicinenet.com there is currently no cure available for Hashimoto’s disease.

What Drugs/Medications are used to Treat Hashimoto’s Disease?

The main treatment for Hashimoto’s disease involves replacing the hormone that your body is incapable of making with a synthetic version of that same hormone. The drug that is usually used is levothyroxine sodium. This drug can be taken orally and is usually prescribed for life. The oral medication usually restores adequate hormone levels and reverses all of the symptoms from hypothyroidism.

View Sources

  1. Endocrineweb.com – Cause of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  2. EverydayHealth.com – What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  3. HealthLine – Hashimoto Risk Factors
  4. Endocrineweb.com – Complications
  5. Endocrineweb.com – Symptoms
  6. HealthLine – Symptoms
  7. MedicineNet.com – Treatment

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