Hashimoto’s Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Learn how Hashimoto’s disease may be caused, symptoms that tend to arise, and how to treat and manage the condition here!
Better Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s disease, also recognized as chronic lymphocytic and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease in which the patient’s own immune systems attacks and damages its own thyroid gland. The unresolved and constant damage of the thyroid gland makes Hashimoto’s disease the most common cause of hypothyroidism, a condition mostly known for slowing down metabolism and resulting to weight gain. Below better describes causes and risk factors, signs and symptoms to be aware of, and how the condition can be treated and managed.
Causes and Risk Factors
Though the direct cause of Hashimoto’s disease is not known, there are factors shown to play a role in its development and include:
A Preexisting Autoimmune Disorder
A preexisting autoimmune disease is said to be the primary risk factor for developing Hashimoto’s disease. Common autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and Addison’s disease.
While Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is not sex-dependent, women are seven times be diagnosed compared to men.
A family history of Hashimoto’s or an autoimmune disease increases your likelihood.
Though Hashimoto’s disease can occur during any age, its development is more common during middle age.
People exposed to excessive levels of environmental radiation or have had radiation therapy to the head, neck, or upper chest are more prone to Hashimoto's disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Unfortunately, there are no sudden or early indicators specific to Hashimoto’s disease, but rather markers of a malfunctioning thyroid that tend to progress later down the road. Overtime, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes slow and chronic cell damage to the thyroid and you may notice swelling in the front of the neck, also known as a goiter. Without proper care and treatment, individuals are at risk of thyroid impairment and failure, eventually developing in signs and symptoms more specific to hypothyroidism. These may include:
• Weight gain
• Fatigue and weakness
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Hair loss and dry skin
• Muscle aches
• Depression and mental
• Cessation of or heavy menstrual cycles in women
Diagnosis and Treating Hashimoto’s Disease
While there is no known way to prevent Hashimoto’s at this time, the condition is considerably treatable, especially if recognizing its indicators early on to lessen the risk of the disease’s progression. A diagnosis can be based on a physical examination, mostly accompanied by a goiter, and blood tests. Lab work is consistent with hypothyroidism, including elevated serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free low thyroid hormone (free thyroxine) levels. Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies may also be detected in blood tests; TPO is is an enzyme that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones.
According to the American Thyroid Association, patients with elevated TPO antibodies but normal thyroid function tests do not require treatment. But for those with abnormal thyroid labs, a clinical diagnosis of hypothyroidism poses the need for thyroid hormone replacement therapy. If receiving hormone therapy for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto's disease, schedule follow-up visits to ensure effective treatment and the opportunity for modifications as needed, as over time, the dose needed to adequately replace thyroid function may change. Additionally, if the dose is excessive, individuals are at risk of developing hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. But with effective treatment, thyroid hormones level out, the goiter shrinks overtime, and symptoms can subside.