Hashimoto's disease or also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease, a disorder where the immune system turns against the body's own tissues. In people with Hashimoto's, the immune system attacks the thyroid. This can lead to hypothyroidism in the sufferer, a condition in which the thyroid does not produce enough hormones for the body's needs.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism. This includes your heart rate and how quickly your body processes the food you eat.
Causes of Hashimoto's thyroiditis
The exact cause of Hashimoto's thyroiditis is not known, but many factors are believed to play a very important role in its occurrence, these are:
People with Hashimoto's disease often have family members who suffer from thyroid or other autoimmune diseases. Which suggests that there is a certain genetic predisposition in the appearance of autoimmune thyroiditis. The Hashimoto 's disease affects approximately seven times more women than men, indicating that sex hormones may also play an important role.
Also, some women have thyroid problems in the first year after having a baby. Although the problem usually disappears, 20% of these women will develop Hashimoto's disease over the years.
Some research suggests that some drugs in addition to excess iodine (a trace mineral required by your body to make thyroid hormones) can trigger thyroid disease in susceptible people.
Exposure to radiation:
Increases in cases of autoimmune thyroiditis have been reported in people exposed to radiation, for example, the atomic bombs in Japan, the Chernobyl nuclear accident or radiation treatment for a form of blood cancer called Hodgkin's disease.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis
The symptoms of Hashimoto's disease can be mild at first, in fact it could take years to develop. The first sign of the disease is often an enlarged thyroid, called a goiter. Goiter can make the front of your neck look swollen. A large goiter can make it difficult for you to swallow or, in other words, to eat food or drink correctly.
If you want to know if you suffer from this disease, it would be very useful to read these 6 signs of chronic thyroiditis:
· Weight gain
· Fatigue and chronic tiredness
· Joint and muscle pain
· Difficulty getting pregnant
· Irregular menstrual periods
Because the symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be similar to those of other diseases, it is important to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Complications of Hashimoto's disease
When this problem is not properly treated, it can bring about a series of complications, such as those mentioned below:
· Enlargement of the thyroid gland. In severe cases, the throat can become inflamed in such a way that it appears as if there is a ball inside. Occasionally, a large goiter can interfere with breathing or swallowing food.
· Emotional problems - Low thyroid levels can increase the risk of depression and libido problems, such as reduced sexual desire.
· Heart conditions - Low levels of thyroid hormones allow "bad" cholesterol levels to rise. This can increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks. In some cases, Hashimoto's disease causes other heart conditions, such as an enlarged heart or heart failure.
· Birth defects - The baby of a woman who has not been treated for Hashimoto's disease is at risk for various birth defects including cleft palate and heart, kidney, or brain malformations.
Treatments for Hashimoto's thyroiditis
There is no cure for Hashimoto's disease, but replacing hormones with medications can regulate your hormone levels and restore your normal metabolism. The drug is available in several different dosages. The exact dose your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors, including:
· Severity of hypothyroidism
· Other health problems
· Other medications that can interact with synthetic thyroid hormones
Once you start treatment, your doctor will order a lab test called a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test. To monitor thyroid function and to be able to make sure you are getting the correct dose. Thyroid hormones work very slowly in the body, and it may take a few months for symptoms to disappear and your goiter to contract. However, if there are large cysts that do not improve, it may be necessary to remove the thyroid gland completely.
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