What Is Hashimoto's Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition characterized by an inflamed thyroid. Also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly invades the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that can be found at the base of the neck. It is part of the endocrine system that produces essential hormones for the body that aids in various functions from metabolism to reproduction.

Causes of hashimoto’s disease

The underlying cause of Hashimoto’s disease and the specifics of why the immune system would attack and destroy the thyroid cells is not yet clearly understood.

Some medical experts believe that that cause may range from a certain bacterium or virus triggering the immune response to a genetic flaw that some humans are born with. It is usually a combination of factors that may determine a person’s chances of developing the disorder.

 Symptoms of hashimoto’s disease

Symptoms that come with Hashimoto’s disease are not that unique. The condition usually is a slow progression for a number of years that leads to chronic thyroid damage. This further leads to a decrease in thyroid hormone levels in the blood. The symptoms that may show is a result of having an under active thyroid gland.

The initial symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease may vary on how severe the hormonal deficiency becomes. Some of the symptoms include fatigue and sluggishness, pale and dry skin, constipation, hoarse voice, unexplained weight gain, elevated blood cholesterol levels and muscle and joint pain and stiffness.

How hashimoto’s disease is diagnosed?

Doctors may recommend tests for Hashimoto’s disease if a patient becomes increasingly tired and sluggish, have a hoarse voice and pale skin. The tests may also be administered if the patient has had previous thyroid problems.

The tests conducted would include determining the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid and pituitary glands as well as testing the immune system for the production of abnormal antibodies.

 How to treat hashimoto’s disease?

Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease includes hormone replacement therapy to deal with the decreased thyroid hormone levels in the blood. This usually involves taking the synthetic hormone levothyroxine, which is identical to the natural thyroid hormone thyroxine.

This is usually taken orally and helps restore adequate hormone levels making the body return to its normal functioning. The treatment is usually for life, with doctors closely checking on maintaining the right hormone levels every six to twelve months.