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Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease by Jaclyn Meador

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Hashimoto’s disease also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. This means that the immune system attacks the thyroid causing it to swell and resulting in inactivity (hypothyroidism). This is the most common cause of Hypothyroidism in the United States. Hashimoto’s disease is most commonly found in middle-aged women but can be found in both genders at any age.

The thyroid is a part of the endocrine system and affects hormones in the body. Hypothyroidism can cause various symptoms, which are greatly dependent on how deficient your body is in thyroid hormone. Some of the major symptoms include fatigue and sluggishness, sensitivity to cold or heat, constipation, dry or pale skin, unexplained weight gain, muscle and joint aches especially in the hips and shoulders, puffy face, hoarse voice, excessive menstrual bleeding, hair loss, and depression. Without treatment, symptoms can become more severe and your thyroid may enlarge. Enlargement of the thyroid is known as a goiter. A goiter may not be uncomfortable. However, a goiter can be noticed and affect your appearance and may cause trouble with swallowing and breathing.            

Hashimoto’s disease is diagnosed by blood testing. This may be from a hormone test or an antibody test. Hormone testing is to check your thyroid levels as well as your pituitary levels. Doctors know that this disease is passed in genetics. However, they are not sure exactly what gene or genes are involved. It has also been found that women who have children are diagnosed with this disease years later. This means pregnancy could also be a trigger.

Treatment for this disease is fairly simple. It is treated with one dose of manmade thyroid hormone daily, for the rest of that person’s life. Artificial thyroid hormone comes in many different amounts which are determined by age, weight, severity of the underachieved thyroid, and other health conditions. It can take months to find the right dosage for someone’s particular body; so follow-up appointments with your doctor are very important. Too much of the hormone can lead to excessive bone loss, leading to osteoporosis and heart rhythm disorders. Thyroid hormone acts very slowly in the body so it may take months for your symptoms to decrease. If not treated symptoms will become more severe and may lead to increasing problems such as infertility, miscarriage, and high cholesterol. Severe underachieving thyroid can lead to coma, heart failure, and even death.

If someone is trying to become pregnant or is already pregnant, thyroid hormone is essential. Women who have untreated or poorly treated thyroid are likely to have miscarriages and stillbirths. Once they are pregnant, during the first trimester the baby depends on the mother’s thyroid hormone for its brain and nervous system development. At ten to twelve weeks the baby’s thyroid begins to work on its own. Babies who are born to untreated women are more likely to have low birth weight and an increased chance of birth defects.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common thyroid disease. With continual attention, it can be treated fairly easily treated. As long as you are willing to work with your doctor and take medicine daily your symptoms will subside and your body will return to normal.




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