Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an auto immune disease that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland which is part of the body’s endocrine system is in charge of regulating the body’s energy use, production of proteins, and regulation of the body’s metabolism. This gland produces the thyroid hormone which is important for the body’s proper growth and development.
Hashimoto’s disease is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. When the body has this auto immune disease, antibodies are made to attack the thyroid gland as if it were a foreign matter which is bad for the body. This damages the gland and affects the production of the thyroid hormone.
This auto immune disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism where the thyroid fails to produce the proper amount of thyroid hormone that the body needs. Individuals who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may experience symptoms similar to hypothyroidism, but in times, they may have bouts of hyperthyroidism as well where the inflamed thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is more common in women and can show up after pregnancy. To detect whether a person has Hashimoto’s disease, a blood workup is needed to check for the antibody levels in the blood. That simple test can help provide a diagnosis for the condition and can help determine which treatment would work best.
People with Hashimoto’s experience symptoms very similar to those of hypothyroidism. These are: depression, weight gain, brittle hair causing hair falling out, constipation, cramps, and swelling of the legs among other symptoms. If one suspects himself having this disease, a consult with the doctor is advised.
Treatments for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include: hormone replacement therapy, or intake of prescribed medications. In hormone replacement therapy, synthetic hormones that can help regulate the production of the thyroid hormone are given to patients with Hashimoto’s. When the gland is permanently damaged, hormone replacement therapy may be needed for life.
Medications can include iodine supplements to help balance out the needed levels of iodine for proper levels of thyroid hormone production. The thyroid needs iodine to produce the thyroid hormone, and insufficient amounts can cause problems for the gland.
When tremendous damage has occurred, the gland may have difficulty converting the iodine into its needed form and that is where medications come in. Always remember though, that proper diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease is needed before any of the treatments for it is used.Photo by joshjanssen